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The Driftwood Group buys Otto Moser’s Restaurant

October 10, 2018

The Driftwood Group buys Otto Moser’s Restaurant

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Driftwood Group has purchased Otto Moser’s on Euclid Avenue downtown and hopes to open a new restaurant in mid to late January, the company’s founder Scott Kuhn said.

Construction starts Monday, he said, and the new name will be Republic Food and Drink. The spacious restaurant will undergo a makeover that includes segregating the bar from the dining area and expanding the patio out front.

“Republic is an America tavern pub-type restaurant that will specialize in sandwiches to prime rib to foods that people are really comfortable with,” he said.

With the opening, the 14-year-old Driftwood Group continues to establish itself in a primary area that the company embraces: Playhouse Square.

In the district, the company also owns Bin 216, with a focus on small bites and wine, and the Italian restaurant Cibreo.

“It’s about the continued evolution in Playhouse Square, which has really become our headquarters,” Kuhn said. “As the district has evolved on both the restaurant side and business side, I just think this district is so special. I think a lot of Cleveland is going to be surprised when they see this for the first time. Playhouse Square has done an incredible job of changing their programing in the five years I’ve been here. I think young people are just catching on to the product Playhouse Square is delivering, whether it’s ‘Hamilton,’ the Broadway shows or concerts or comedians.

“This is no longer a seasonal district; it’s year-round entertainment.”

For the renamed Otto Moser’s space, Playhouse Square will be the landlord while Driftwood will own the restaurant.

Whereas Otto Moser’s focus was primarily lunch, Republic will be a “full-scale lunch and dinner” place.

“We’re calling it loosely an American tavern, but we’re going to pick some American standards and not play with them too much,” Kuhn said. “We know the theater crowd really well. We understand that the cuisine can’t be too messy. We’re cognizant of the whole experience.

Among the options: Expect short ribs and prime rib on the dinner menu. For lunch, hand-pattied burgers and fries will be served. The menu won’t be “out of the box,” he said.

He added “once The Lumen is open there may be an opportunity for brunch.”

The Lumen is a 34-story residential complex being constructed at Euclid and E. 17th Street.

Kuhn’s consideration of brunch probably is a good idea, considering many nearby places are closed on Sundays.

Otto Moser’s will undergo a complete renovation, he said. It seats 150 inside plus 40 on the patio.

“The design will be somewhat of a throwback of the original theater building in that there will be exposed brick combined with rich leather seating, tile flooring and hardwood.”

Added bonus: If you park in the Playhouse Square garage you won’t have to go outside; patrons can enter Republic from the Bulkley Building hallway.

Otto Moser’s, in the Bulkley Building at 1425 Euclid Ave., closed in September after 24 years. It had previously stood in what is now E. 4th Street for decades.

Previous coverage: Otto Moser’s closes

“There’s history there,” Kuhn said. “I give (previous owners) Dan (Bir) and Steve (Dimotsis) a lot of credit. They did this for a really long time. I think you’re going to see some nods to them in the new design. They are a part of that space.”

Those nods might come in the form of some ancient photos of showmen and women found in the space. They date to the late 1800s / early 1900s, Kuhn said.

“We will find a way to get them back into the design,” he said.

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