The Flaming Ice Cube. When this strange moniker debuted on a downtown storefront in July, the phrase alone was buzzworthy.
No, it’s not a new superhero or Cirque du Soleil act. It’s a restaurant in downtown Cleveland. Located in the Park Building on Public Square, Flaming Ice Cube (aka the Cube), is a tasty new vegan restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Yet the Cube didn’t just one day appear in a puff of smoke, if you will. The opening was the result of careful planning and plotted enticement by two downtown residents, Robert Carillio and Jesse Howells, whose family owns the Park Building. The pair contacted the café’s owners, who opened the original location in Boardman, Ohio, and recruited them to open a second location in Cleveland.
And Howells and Carillio didn’t meet by accident either. They’re both recent grads of the City Advocates program, an effort by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) to engage young professionals in the revitalization of downtown.
“The Flaming Ice Cube was one of Robert’s favorite Youngstown restaurants, and when he met Jesse through the City Advocates program, they contacted the café and sold them on opening a downtown location,” explains Laura Kushnick, Development and Community Relations Manager for DCA. So far, more than 40 people have graduated from the program.
Here’s how it works. For two years, City Advocates attend monthly meetings and take on a project that will advance downtown. When they emerge from the program, they are skilled community leaders.
Besides recruiting new retailers, DCA’s City Advocates have created YouTube marketing videos, are developing a free bus loop to connect entertainment districts in the summer, and are working with the city to create a dog park in the central business district.”