Sterle’s Slovenian Country House to Close

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – After 63 years, Sterle’s Country House on East 55th Street is closing its doors.

But another door is opening, says owner Rick Semersky, who purchased the Eastern European restaurant in the chalet-like building in 2014. It was first opened by Slovenian immigrant Frank Sterle in 1954, and generations of Clevelanders have polka-ed, pierogied and schnitzeled under its bucolic Slovenian murals.

Sterle’s is being transformed into a full-time event center. Semersky briefly tried transforming it into an all family-style restaurant in February, but that did not catch on. The phone has kept ringing with requests to rent space in the massive restaurant, however.

“We always have people asking about events, and it’s a struggle to keep something this big open on a regular, daily basis,” says Semersky. “But we’re renting space out like crazy.

“This is good and bad. But Sterle’s has a great opportunity to become what it has always been, a really great community space. … We look at this as a way to bring everything together to make it a space where we can do out best.” They will also do a monthly “chef’s dinner” anyone can attend.

The transformation of Sterle’s into an event space is just one of several changes Semersky is making in his Hub 55 complex in the St. Clair Superior area. Located across the street from Sterle’s, the 42,000-square foot building at 1361 East 55th Street, opened in 2014, includes the 10,000-square foot Goldhorn Brewery and tap-room; and the 2,000 square foot healthy eats Cafe 55 as well as several areas of rentable flex and retail space.

This week, Goldhorn, which opened in 2016, has begun serving lunch

“We’re really excited about it. A lot of guests have been asking us to do that for a long time,” says Semersky. “Goldhorn, like Sterle’s, has those traditional ties to the neighborhood,” he says of his brewery-restaurant that serves food and brews with a Eastern European accent befitting its area roots in St. Clair-Superior.

Goldhorn is now being distributed throughout Cleveland and Columbus, and headbrewer Joel Warger is expanding the brewery’s capacity to keep up with demand. They have also begun canning their Polka City Pilsner and Dead Man’s Curve IPA which will be available in local groceries by the end of summer.

The menu at Goldhorn will remain Eastern European-centric pub food, but chef Natasha Pogrebinsky, who has been named Executive Director of Culinary and Innovation / Executive Chef of Hub 55, says they will be making some updates.

She is also refreshing the menu at Cafe 55 as the space enters its third year. It will remain fast-casual, with an emphasis on grab-and-go options. Several of Cafe 55 menu items will also be available through the local Mod Meals delivery service, which Semersky purchased last year.

“We have spent the last six months revamping the platform, website and operations – it is all done in house now- and it is re-launching this week,” he says.

Pogrebinsky and Semersky are also working together on the concept for his long-planned restaurant in the Lakeshore Banking and Trust building directly across the street from Hub 55.”We will be doing the build out late 2017 for a 2018 spring opening,” says Semersky.

“Sterle’s is the epicenter but we’ve realized what it should be now is this great party and event center,” says Semersky of his first foray into the area where two generations of his family once lived. He has long said his mission in the area was about ” creating critical mass in the neighborhood … We want to create a place that will be a destination, but also where people who have lived here their whole lives can come.”

With the transformation of Sterle’s, his mission lives on, just differently.

“Sterle’s doesn’t need to be everything in the area now, it’s just one component of the area. Hub 55 is progressing like we wanted to, but it’s a littler different than we thought.”

“People coming to Goldhorn and Hub 55 may or may not have gone to Sterle’s, but they’re coming to the area for the same reasons: the food and history.”

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