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Lifestyle




Hodges Downtown offers some of the food trucks' playful fare
Chef/owners Chris Hodgson and Scott Kuhn have other big plans
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
The Hodges sign grabs attention on Euclid Avenue.
Courtesy of Zach Duvall
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In The Region:

The Cleveland chef who zoomed to fame in the Great Food Truck Race has taken a pit stop. His trucks will still roll, but for now, he’s parked himself in the kitchen of his new downtown Cleveland restaurant. For this week’s Quick Bite, we visit “Hodges.”

Cleveland's rolling chef plants himself downtown

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Kuhn and Hodgson make it a point to meet once a week over dinner.


Kuhn and Hodgson make it a point to meet once a week over dinner.

Farm to table is a philosophy the partners share.


Farm to table is a philosophy the partners share.

(Click image for larger view.)

Chris Hodgson is the proprietor of two food trucks in Cleveland as well as the chef/owner of Hodges. Hodgson’s “Dim and Den Sum” was the first food truck to hit the streets of Cleveland in 2010. His second truck, “Hodge Podge,” came in second last year in the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race.

Hodgson’s managing partner at “Hodges,” his first “bricks and mortar” restaurant, is Scott Kuhn, the proprietor of several Cleveland restaurants .

Hodges opened late last month. It took over the former Zinc Bistro in the 668 Euclid Building. It’s an enormous space, 4,400-square feet, with room for 140 patrons inside and another 140 on the patio and outdoor bar.

Both chefs are Clevelanders

Kuhn, now in his mid-30s, grew up in Solon and opened his first restaurant not long after completing his culinary training at the University of Akron. In seven years, he’s expanded his empire to Westlake, Burton, and Cleveland’s Little Italy as well as western Pennsylvania. 

Hodgson, now 26, graduated from Hawken and trained at the Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I grew up working in restaurants around here. Lopez Bar and Grille was my first restaurant gig. Eric Williams, who now owns Momocho, was kind of the first guy who took me under his wing and helped me out.”

The improving economy is helping this new venture. Hodgson says patrons who had stopped going to restaurants are starting to come back.

Aiming for an ambience that’s warm and fun

Hodgson and Kuhn put in a much bigger grill and created an open kitchen. that looks right into the dining room. Hodgson’s put on some special touches, “I got a branding iron so I ran around branding H’s everywhere. It’s been a really fun experience.”

Global , playful comfort food   

The Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge trucks will be key to a new catering business Hodgson and Kuhn are setting up. And they’ll keep rolling on the streets of Cleveland , but with a more limited schedule. Like the food on his trucks, Hodgson says the fare at “Hodges” will be “playful, global comfort food.”

“You’ll see classics from corn dogs but instead of actual corn dogs, it’s a lobster, a lamb, and a duck corndog, so a trio of corndogs. Instead of your normal white wine mussels, you’ll see mussels with Korean sausage and curry and coconut milk.”

Bar snacks are also served during happy hour including chicken liver toast and pickle jars, between $1 and $5 .

Kuhn and Hodgson have enough faith in the region’s simmering cuisine scene to dream big. They’re planning a microbrewery for Chagrin Falls next year, looking at another space in Cleveland’s Playhouse district, and hoping to feed sports fans, too.

We breathe, live, and cook for Cleveland so we just want to see great things happen. We actually tried to name the new company, “Hometown Hospitality,” because this is where we want to stay.”

Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson have hired 50 employees for “Hodges” and anticipate a workforce of 300 company-wide.


Related Links & Resources
Hodges website

Listener Comments:

Pears of the tree beside our deck!


Posted by: Sophia Testa (Akron, Ohio) on August 9, 2012 9:08AM
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