Former Baricelli Inn executive chef Christopher DiLisi wants to help bring the Flats back.
He will bring his new restaurant, Willeyville, to the $500 million Flats East Bank project. Earlier this year, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill was announced for the Flats East Bank.
DiLisi said he is excited to be opening his own restaurant and doing so in the Flats, an area he used to frequent.
"Once we learned this (Flats East Bank) was a possibility for us, we jumped on it," said DiLisi, who is teaming up with his wife Krista to open Willeyville. "When people think of Cleveland- they think of the Flats. I love this city, and I want to be a part of the project that brings the Flats back. "
Willeyville is named after Cleveland's first mayor, John Willey. Willey took office in 1836, and it is rumored that soon after the Flats was commonly referred to as "Willeyville" to make a statement that it was indeed Cleveland- not Ohio City- terrain.
With just over 3,000 square feet, Willeyville will be able to accommodate approximately 100 guests with indoor and outdoor dining. DiLisi describes his new venue, which will be located on Front and West 10th streets, as warm and inviting with an economy-conscious menu.
Willeyville will also offer more than 100 wine selections and a variety of craft beers. However, the bar experience will focus upon old-school specialty drinks with fresh juices and spices.
Flats developers are thrilled to welcome another talented chef to Flats East Bank.
"After many years of ground work, it is so gratifying to see the domino effect of commitments to the Flats project," said Randy Ruttenberg, principal of Fairmount Properties, the firm that is developing Flats East Bank along with The Wolstein Group. "We feel very fortunate that we are securing a tremendous variety of restaurants and entertainment venues- from established venues to totally original concepts, from nationals to locals. There will truly be something for everyone in the new Flats East Bank."
Earlier this month, Flats East Bank celebrated the topping-off of the 23-story office tower that will house Ernst & Young, Tucker Ellis and CBRE. Aloft Hotel, a Starwood hotel, is also quickly taking shape next door. Phase I of Flats East Bank - including the office tower, hotel, several restaurants and a 1,200 foot riverfront boardwalk- is on schedule for completion in the spring of 2013. The $500 million development will also ultimately include an upscale waterfront residential complex, and many more dining and retail choices.