Friday, December 28, 2007

third look inside the rosetta stone

A few days before Christmas, I snuck inside the Rosetta Stone Cafe to take a few more pictures. This post will provide an update of the construction, plus a sneak preview of the menu.

The full-service restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as indicated in this article from the Business-Journal:
"The static portion [of the menu] will feature steaks, chicken and other entrees. The other will be “somewhat dynamic and change relatively frequently,” he continued. Among the selections will be Peruvian and Mediterranean dishes.

The chefs are Barry Karrh and Chuck Wolfcale. Karrh, who attended culinary school in France, comes from Mississippi and “brings a lot of French Creole and Cajun to the table.” Wolfcale has been a chef in the area more than 27 years."
Here is photo of the rapidly changing mural that runs along the back of the stage.

Now peeering towards the wine room,

when we look inside we can see the racks for all the bottles.

This section of the restaurant is now carpeted and ready for furniture.

Speaking of furniture, here are some seats being put in:

Ok, now back to the menu. Picking out some (but not all) items

For breakfast: bagels, croissants and muffins will be baked daily.

For appetizers: asiago stuffed mushrooms, spinach pies, and vichyssoise, etc.

For salads: goat cheese and fruits with baby greens, Chilean caeser salad, etc.

For meats: fillet, ribeye, ny strip, and surf and turf, etc.

Other main courses: trout almandine, butterflied shrimp in tumeric

For vegetarians: mushroon ravoli, ratatouille, etc.

For desserts: lemon souffle, mousse cake, etc.

Keep in mind there is a whole bunch of stuff from the menu that I did not include, including other entrees, soups and sandwiches. I just chose those things that jumped out at me and my palate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

the cénacle at selah

I'm always amazed on how people find this blog. Many times, surfers are looking for a certain restaurant or event but because they have no presence on the internet, Shout Youngstown pops up.

Metro Monthly recently featured a piece on Selah, a french-american fusion bistro, that fits this category. What interested me the most about this place is how the place sits in a former bank, with the renovations taking advantage of such architectural details such as the teller windows and the vault. This YouTube clip points out those details.

The video also contains information about their dinner theatre on the second floor of the building, and their weekly jazz nights. Selah is located on Bridge Street, just along the Mahoning River.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

funny, I don't hear a giant sucking sound

I was reading a recent post at Burgh Diaspora last night, and it looked at the top metros that people from the Pittsburgh region choose for relocation.

The data originates from this paper by Christopher Briem at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research. Briem uses addresses from IRS income tax returns to track employees in the years 2000 to 2006. The top 10 areas Pittsburghers move to are:

1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (9,009 people)
2. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (7,708)
3. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (6,378)
4. Indiana (PA) (5,093)
5. Youngstown-Warren (4,912)
6. New Castle (4,900)
7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (4,157)
8. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor (3,918)
9. Columbus (3,579)
10. Atlanta (3,451)

Alternatively, the report lists where people are coming from to live in the Pittsburgh region. In this table as well, Youngstown-Warren is ranked 5th, with 4,658 people making the move to the land of the Steelers Nation.

That means in the past six years . . .
4,912 people left Pittsburgh to come to Youngstown, and
4,658 people left Youngstown to come to Pittsburgh.

resulting in a net difference of only 254 people.

Here are my conclusions from this information:

a. Compared to other large metro areas, Youngstown absorbs a relatively high number of people from Pittsburgh. (more than Cleveland surprisingly)

b. Compared to the number of people going between the two metros, the difference between them is relatively small.

c. The economies of both regions, especially when adding New Castle into the mix, shows some interdependencies between regional economies.

d. New people are moving to Youngstown.

This data does not differentiate for the type of job - if someone is an engineer, or bartender, or fireman, etc - so it does not make conclusions on what type of people are making these movements . . . only if they are making these movements.

But within the Pittsburgh region, the population is redistributing. More people are shifting to the Youngstown neighbor counties of Lawrence, Beaver and Butler (home of the technology in Cranberry Township) than leaving.

Even though this is one slice of data from one time period, maybe it provides proof that the local economy is stabilizing and that people don't just leave Youngstown,

they come to Youngstown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

second look inside the rosetta stone cafe


what a difference two weeks makes!

Following up from yesterday's post, here are some new photos from inside the rapidly changing Rosetta Stone Cafe. Looking around the interior, we find fresh coats of paint on the walls . . .

And the arched ceiling is now painted with a colorful mural. Created by one of the Rosetta Stone Cafe's chefs, the mural depicts some of the wonders of the ancient world, including the lighthouse of Alexandria.

Looking out from the stage, you can see the rest of the mural, going to the main part of the restaurant.

Moving over towards the bar, lots of work has been done here as well.

And peering down the length of the bar . . .

Finally, a photo from the beautiful medians along West Federal, which provided me shelter as I took this picture looking into the Rosetta Stone in the evening.

Seems to be progressing nicely . . .

first look inside the rosetta stone cafe

Over the past few weeks, local message boards and blogs have been buzzing about the opening of the Rosetta Stone Cafe in downtown youngstown. The Rosetta Stone Cafe will be a full service restaurant with an extensive seating area, bar, and even a bakery with pastries and other oven-fresh goods.

Three weekends ago just after Thanksgiving, one of the partners gave Shout Youngstown a tour of the building in which the Rosetta Stone Cafe will be housed. The building was at one point a Woolworth's department store, and its most recent commercial incarnation was a Rite Aid. Here is a photo of the front of the building at present, located at 110 West Federal Street:

Signs on the front windows show they are looking to hire employees in time for their grand opening. Check out this Craiglist ad for more details, or contact them at [info (at) rosettastonecafe (dot) com].

Here is a picture facing what will be the bar area:

From behind the bar, you can look across to the main entrance and out to Federal Street.

Next, in the center of the space towards the back, we have an arched ceiling where the stage will be.

Glancing around the main room, there are some various spaces for semi-private and private dining and meetings.

Into one of the bathrooms before the thrones are installed,

And finally, a quick peek at the kitchen area:

come back tomorrow to this blog, and we'll fast forward though more construction and another update. This one will be from a week ago, or about two weeks after the pictures in this post.

And again, if you or other you know would be interested in working at the Rosetta Stone, give em a call or shoot them an email.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Yo, Cleveburgh!" . . . listen up.

The rust belt region's blogosphere has been heating up with a discussion about how the region's cities - Erie, Buffalo, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Cleveland - can come together to promote the region and grow economically.

Probably the best blog covering this drive (and one you should bookmark and read often) is Burgh Diaspora. Check out one of Burgh Diaspora's most recent posts, titled Benchmarking the Real Pittsburgh.
"Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and retired Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neill and former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editor John G. Craig Jr., among the founders of the Pittsburgh Regional Indicators Consortium, will give a detailed presentation on the need for area business and government decision-makers to better understand the dynamics of an expansively defined metropolitan Pittsburgh.

The PRI's Web site ( features detailed and continuously updated decision-support statistics on nine key components -- called "indicators" -- of the region's life: Arts, Demographics, Economy, Education, Environment, Government, Health, Safety and Transportation.

The group defines the metropolitan Pittsburgh region as the twenty-two counties surrounding the city, including those in West Virginia and Ohio."
Under this new initiative, here is how the Pittsburgh region will be defined and monitored:

The area in green runs to less than a mile from the city limits of Youngstown.

Not the Youngstown exurbs, the Youngstown city limits.

Lawrence County is a hop (not even a skip and a jump) away, and many would consider this county as both a part of the Youngstown region and the Pittsburgh region.

This is further proof of the region's continuing integration. People commute from Youngstown to Twinsburg . . . people commute from Youngstown to Akron . . . people commute from Youngstown to Cranberry Township.

So as Ed Morrison asked recently in BFD for us to compare how we are measuring ourselves, should the Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh regions all be collecting the same data?

Should the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber be replicating the exact model that Pittsburgh is now instituting?

Guided by the style and ease of the PRI website, maybe tracking the Arts, Demographics, Economy, Education, Environment, Government, Health, Safety and Transportation as a mega-region can be a component of the Ryan/Altmire Tech Belt initiative?

Again, from the RPI's website:
"This project’s goal is to spark a more informed civic dialog. By providing a timely and accurate statistical picture of regional life, we hope to stimulate a discussion of where we are and where we hope to go.

This project is closely coordinated with the Key National Indicators Initiative, centered at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. That initiative was begun as one response to a 2004 General Accounting Office (GAO) report recommending the establishment of a national indicator system as a way to help people and organizations answer vital questions about their communities, as well as to give all the people a report card on the nature of life in the United States."
- - -

The Burgh Diaspora blog has even been picked up by Richard Florida's blog recently, for its discussion on a geographically targeted high-skill immigration policy for revitalizing our rustbelt cities.

I'm still eager to see what develops from the first Tech Belt meeting held at Youngstown State University in October.

In the meantime, my new tag for Youngstown, Cleveland Pittburgh posts on regionalism will be:

"Yo, Cleveburgh!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

sold out Vilija dinner keeps growing every year

Last Sunday at St.Matthias' Hall in the southside neighborhood of Lansingville, hundreds and hundreds of people joined together in the celebration of Vilija: the traditional slovak christmas eve meal.

Sponsored by the American Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley, the event celebrates central european cultural traditions and raises funds for its many scholarship programs and outreach.

All people - those of Slovak decent and new visitors to the neighborhood - are welcomed into the community for a great feast with flowing wine and traditional slovak entertainment.

Last year's special guest was the Ambassador to the United States from Slovakia. This year the new bishop of the Youngstown Diocese, The Most Reverend George Murry, joined the celebration - and picked up a many words of wisdom and thanks during the offical program (in the slovak language, of course).

The meal begins with oplatky and honey, to remind us of life's sweetness. Next, big bowls of kapustnica (mushroom and sauerkraut soup) are brought to each table and distributed to each guest.

The main course is a meatless tradition, with ryba (fish), pirohy, hrach (peas), bobalky (dough balls with poppy seed), jablko (apples) and slovak beer and wine. Poppy seed and walnut kolač were availble to all for dessert.

Soon after the meal, scholarships were presented to students from various local slovak organizations. Pictured here is the student coming this year from Youngstown's sister city, Spišská Nová Ves, through the organization's exchange program. Also awarded scholarships were the local American students who studied for a year in Slovakia.

This was followed by the entertainment for the evening, this year provided by the acting and singing group the Pittsburgh Slovakians.

What's amazing about all of this is that the Slovak community in Youngstown continues to hang in there, some might say even thrive. People continue to donate their time and gifts for auction (like the signed boxing gloves by Lansingville native and resident, World Champion Kelly Pavlik). The language continues to be spoken, and the traditions continue be passed down to even younger generations.

You too can be a part of all this!

And that's another jewel Youngstown has that many places don't. The appreciation and celebration of ethnic foods, the festivals, the crazy last names from the many cultures that came to this nation years ago - and continue to come today.

We've got soul, baby. And we have to keep that soul going.

We need to re-seed our neighborhoods with new immigrants, so we can build more of what makes Youngstown special (and get at least one Thai and Indian restaurant, please). Many communities across the U.S. have nothing like we do, and sometimes we need to appreciate it a little more.

Kudos to the organizers, they did a great job in organizing the Vilija.

And until the big feast next year, dobrú chuť.

Friday, December 14, 2007

cupcakes and angry elves

Only two shows left at the Oakland for the double performances of Season's Greetings and Santaland Diaries.

this Saturday, December 15th, at 8pm
this Sunday, December 16th, at 8pm

At the Sunday show starting at 7pm, every visitor to the Oakland will receive a free cupcake treat from the Youngstown gourmet cupcakery POP!.

here are some picts, ordering info is on their website: (disclaimer: POP! cupcakes will not help you lose weight, make you prettier, make your car payments, or get you a better job.)

check out those Heath Bar Cupcakes and the Apple Pie Cupcakes!

Regardless if you find the musings of David Sedaris hilariously funny or disappointingly annoying, the cupcakes make the trip downtown worth it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

for real?

my Google Alert found this on the Feast of the Seven Fishes blog:
"The best part of this signing by far was all the fans who came in with printed out blogs about the event, those are the true fans!"

for real?

Monday, December 10, 2007

the folly of comparing NEO cities to columbus

Earlier last week, this blog reported on an interesting series of articles from the Columbus Dispatch on the status of Ohio's largest seven cities. Youngstown's story ran in Saturday's paper, and Sunday's paper was dedicated to the story of Columbus.

One of the comments one can hear over and over again about Columbus on places like talk radio is that tremendous growth has taken place there, making it better than Youngstown and Cleveland and our other cities in Northeast Ohio.

To illustrate this growth, check out the interactive graphic the Dispatch presented, especially the city of Columbus' borders. From the article . . .
"Columbus expanded from 39 square miles in 1950 to 210 in 2000 , adding more than 80 square miles - more than Ohio's other six biggest cities combined during that period."

And while those cities have lost a combined 886,223 residents since 1950, Columbus has added more than 357,000 and now is the nation's 15th biggest."

Which brings up an interesting question:

If Columbus, like Youngstown and Cleveland did not annex all that land, what would the current condition of Columbus be the same?"

the answer:

Columbus would be a completely different place.

Again, from Sunday's story:
"There are 100,000 fewer residents living within the 1956 boundaries of Columbus now than then, according to state Rep. Larry Wolpert, a Hilliard Republican who led a 2004 legislative study of Ohio land uses. An estimated 200,000 residents of Columbus live in suburban school districts, he said, avoiding the city's struggling educational system."

"Shopping malls are indicators of Columbus' growth pattern. They have continually chased residents as they've gravitated toward and beyond the I-270 outerbelt. City Center downtown, the Continent off of Rt. 161 and Northland Mall on Morse Rd., a shopping mecca in the 1970s and '80s, are dead. Easton on the Northeast Side and Polaris Fashion Place, which sits on Delaware County land annexed to Columbus, are prospering."

Taking a quick look at Columbus' page on wikipedia, the population of the city was 375,901 in 1950 and 471,316 in 1960. Without the time to find the exact 1956 Columbus city population, we can estimate that Columbus' (pre-annexation boundaries) population dropped somewhere between 26.7 percent and 21.3 percent - which is not as dramatic of a decline of other Ohio cities, but it's certainly closer.

For a multitude of reasons (including schools, crime, housing stock, racism, etc.), the people of Columbus were just as able to abandon the inner city of Columbus - as many of its neighborhoods are falling apart to this day. So with annexation, the larger tax base from the wealthy suburbial developments inside the city of Columbus now means more money can be reinvested in existing struggling city neighborhoods. And now, many of those struggling neighborhoods from the 1970s have turned around in Columbus, but there still are a lot of problems within the pre-annexation boundaries.

Cities like Youngstown and Cleveland don't always have the luxury of dipping into the pockets of the wealthier residents of a metro area like Columbus can. But when people see irresponsible spending that happens from time to time by a city council, that luxury becomes more politically difficult to justify.

So while Columbus should be credited on their ability to diversify their economy and their fortunate circumstance to have experienced annexation - when you come down to Columbus next time from Northeast Ohio, make sure to stop by the abandoned shopping malls and deteriorating pre-annexation neighborhoods as well.

Friday, December 07, 2007

need a fish? here's seven of them . . .

and seven fishes makes a feast!

Subpopular is giving away a copy of the combination cookbook-comic book-graphic novel, "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on its website. All one has to do is register with Subpopulated, an online community of Youngstown artists, musicians, and everyday people from around the globe that is associated with the Subpopular online magazine.

Additionally, the author of "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" will be selling and signing the book at Little Jimmy's on Belmont Avenue on Monday December 10th. Earlier in the day, the tour will be at Corbo's Bakery in the Italian Village in Cleveland.

fact: I know Italians who live in the Italian Village in Cleveland who drive down to Youngstown to get Jimmy's cookies and canolis because they swear the taste is better. I was suprised they make the trip, but good food makes people go long distances. I think Corbo's is still pretty good, then again, Jimmy's IS worth driving 90 minutes for.

You can find more details about the signing in Youngstown here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

more palka

Here's more stuff from Matt Palka.

Preview of nationwide campus tour, began at Youngstown U.

and Matt's Video Blog - VW Bus Tour
part I
part 2
part 3
part 4

Monday, December 03, 2007

frayed blue jeans

Recently I was watching the video for Matt Palka's "Frayed Blue Jeans" song, filmed in and around Youngstown.

I'll tell you what - it's a beautiful video which illustrates how amazing our local talent is, and how stunning our natural environment is. The Park (when there's a "the" before park, it implies Mill Creek Park) is a perfect backdrop for so many artistic endeavors.

Check out the video:

Matt biked across the country and wrote a book about his travels, with "Frayed Blue Jeans" being the first song on the accompanying soundtrack.

It's the first time I've watched a music video and recognized about half of the people who appear in it.

Produced and filmed by Chris Rutushin of River and Heron Productions, the video is also in the final round of a contest by Star 98.7 in Los Angeles. The winner gets a $25,000 recording contract with ATO Records, which was founded by Dave Matthews and Michael McDonald.

You can go here to vote for the video.

and you can read Matt's blog (now added to the blogroll) about the making of the video here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

to stay, or not to stay? - the state's façade

The State Theater has been a fixture on West Federal Street for about 80 years. Its beautiful terra cotta front has welcomed generations of Youngstowners from its days as a movie theater to its days as a rock venue.

The footprint of the building looks like a wine bottle. Narrow along the Federal Street entrance, the deeper you go into the building, the space widens out into a full auditorium along Boardman Street.

Here is a picture from the summer, before the outside renovation of the Davis Building (in red) to the right. The State Theater is in the middle, and the Armed Forces Building is on the left.

However, the State has been abandoned for over a decade now and like similar buildings in our downtown, the roof was not secured properly by the current owners, the elements have found their way inside, and the building's interior has deteriorated.

A similar story appears over and over again in many of the city's historical buildings - lack of simple investment leads to massive internal destruction which leads to public tax dollars footing the bill for the building's demolition.

Admittedly, the main part of the State Theater is now in bad shape. Due to its current condition, the main question has been not if it will come down, but when it will come down.

A public meeting held last January brought people together to discuss the future of the building, and perhaps more importantly, the future of its historic façade.

A story ran in yesterday's Business Journal chronicling the future demolition of the State Theater and the Armed Forces Building. It is the position of many people in the community that a compromise can be reached to save the historic façade, even if these buildings are to be demolished.

But within the story came this troubling comment:

"While MS (the engineering company) will try to save the façade on the State, that may not be possible, Pierko warned. He sees the demolition efforts similar to those taken to raze the Higbee Building. The Higbee façade could not be saved and reused."

- - -

Keep a watch on this project, folks.

For there may be more to this story than meets the eye . . .

Again, let's check out the view from Federal Street. Three buildings each built in separate decades, with what I believe have no load bearing structures attaching the adjacent properties.

Now, here is that same view, but from the rear of the buildings:

It might be hard to see, but there are whole buildings behind the Davis and Armed Forces Buildings, but very little behind the façade of the State Theater.

Similar to the the set of any theater around the world, the façade is almost like a piece of set design. It's a 1920s advertisement to draw people off the main drag and into the theater.

The terra cotta here is in great shape, not chipping or falling down. It seems to be somewhat self-supporting and almost free-standing in its current configuration.

That being said, no one in the Business-Journal story reported that the façade will definitely be destroyed. They still may try to save it.

But it's interesting to see what is actually behind all of these buildings.

- - -

The possible demolition of the State's façade brings up another really interesting point, and that is, there are sometimes many solutions between one extreme and another. Everything versus nothing.

It's possible that with proper support and care during the demolition of the rest of the building, the entire façade could remain intact.

But looking across the world, we can see other projects that preserve their architecture using alternate methods.

Along Beale Street in downtown Memphis (I have seen this done there with nicer buildings but couldn't gank the photos) the façade was supported, the building removed from behind it, and the structures were then illuminated at night.

In Montreal, Quebec this saved façade was integrated into the future design of a restaurant. It separated outdoor seating from the sidewalk.

And even in the space where the Armed Forces Building is set to definitely disappear, techniques can be utilized to artifically maintain the streetscape, perhaps on a semi-permanent basis.

This is Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. It's not a booming metropolis, as Sienna is a modest city of about 60,000 people. But during construction, they placed these mesh screens which simulates the historical architecture. As more buildings are taken out from the continuity of the frontage along Federal Street, can this be a viable alternative to leaving a space between buildings?

It will be interesting to watch how this all unfolds. Will we keep a downtown full of character, or will we lose many of the references to our past that makes our downtown so unique?

Keep a watch on this project, folks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

new gallery downtown explodes with excitement

The opening reception for The Inaugural Exhibition of Art Youngstown was a packed house, filled with the young and old, professionals and amateurs, observers and creators - all buzzing with energy.

Boy, was their gallery space on West Federal in downtown stuffed with supporters. It was hard to breathe, yet along move to the back of the building to get to the baked ziti.

Room upon room, the gallery was filled with oil paintings, sculpture, photography, video instillations, watercolors - from 76 local artists in total. I even saw a childrens book on sale featuring Jay Williams, what I believe was titled "the boy who would become mayor".

The mission of Art Youngstown is "making art accessible to all." This collection could be viewed by any person who walked in the door.


As the rooms cleared towards the end of the evening, it was possible to take some photos highlighting the diversity of art produced by the Youngstown community.

From the brochure of the opening night . . .

The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen.

Here is a photo of the people who put it all together:

Due to the overwhelming response of the opening weekend, the show will have extended gallery hours from
12pm to 8pm on Saturday, December 1st
25 West Federal Street

Some of the remaining pieces are available for purchase.

Check it out if you have the time, and contact Art Youngstown for more information on how you can become involved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

framing the davis question

the question is: when will we able to see more pictures?

well, NOW!

Since our last update, the roof has been replaced, the interior wooden framing has been constructed, and the walls have been sandblasted.

Here's a picture from across the alley showing the 2nd floor roof going in. Notice the 15 year old tree to the right on top of the state theater. It provides nice shade for the roofers.

Here's another perspective of the open roof, but from the ground floor looking up. The first and second floors are framed in such a way that the picture is taken from the future two-story lobby.

Going up to the third floor along the newly-built steps . . .

One can see this panaramic shot from the third floor.

With light streaming throught the back windows that will lead to the rooftop terrace.

Here is a picture of the walls and interior brickwork before sandblasting

and after sandblasting.

Finally, a shot from the roof at dusk, peering down Federal Street. Check out those beautiful medians.