Earlier this month, Gia Ilijasic and husband James Patsche, owners of Gigi's on Fairmount
, 3477 Fairmount Boulevard, opened Gigi's After Dark adjacent to their clubby Taylor Fairmont eatery. The soft opening was Dec. 6, with the grand opening the following weekend.
"We didn't know what to expect and we were mobbed," says Patsche. "It was off the hook."
The expansion was in response to the overwhelming popularity of the 45-seat Gigi's, which opened in November 2013.
"If there was a line or a wait," says Patsche, "we'd maybe lose those customers. Now we have a wonderful cozy environment they can go to next door and have a cocktail before dinner while waiting for a table or to have a cocktail after dinner." When doing so, they'll have more options from which to choose, including apothecary style craft potables created by Eric Mattimore, previously of Katz Club Bar Car, who is helming the new bar.
If the opening is any indication, people seemed to grasp the concept.
"We kept the customers here longer and kept them happier."
The new 50-seat expansion includes an 11-seat bar, plush seating, 16-high top seats and a chef's table for up to 10, the only one for which Gigi's will accept reservations. The new 1,100-square-foot space will serve small plates only and will open at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closing time depends on the customers.
"We close when customers says we close," says Patsche, although 2 a.m. will be the witching hour.
Patsche, who was previously an investment banker before his rebirth as a restaurateur acted as general contractor on the revamp.
"We took a shell of a room and converted it to this night club lounge in just 27 days," he says, adding that acquiring the permit took as long as the renovation work. Mark Fremont Architects
of Cleveland Heights did the design.
The expansion was born of need and opportunity. When home furniture boutique duoHOME went dark earlier this year, Ilijasic and Patsche knew it was time to act.
"The space became available," says Patsche. "We knew that we'd never have the opportunity to expand in this address unless we took the space now. We probably weren't really ready for it, but who is ever ready?"
When the snow melts, customers will enjoy another benefit of the expansion: twice the sidewalk patio space. Local charities, however, won't have to wait that long to reap the benefits of Gigi's increased receipts courtesy of the "Magnificent Mondays" program, which launced in July.
Each month, Gigi's selects a local cause to support by donating 10 percent of the Mondays' gross sales to it. December's beneficiary is Roots of American Music
. Previous beneficiaries have included FutureHeights
and the Effective Leadership Academy
. Patsche says the practice makes a bigger and more focused impact than traditional donations.
"Instead of just giving a small nominal amount or $25 gift certificate," he says, "we can give a large check, maybe a $2,500 check for the entire month. It goes towards much better causes.
"It's been a great way for us to give back to the community."