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Blu restaurant in Beachwood

Owner Brad Friedlander notes the litany of economic factors that forced his decision to close Blu, the Restaurant in Beachwood.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – A frustrated Brad Friedlander has closed Blu, the Restaurant because of economic factors and staffing issues.

The restaurant is at 3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, at the northeast corner of Richmond Road and Chagrin Boulevard.

“I couldn’t operate the restaurant between lack of help, people getting sick – I can’t even tell you,” he said. “It was like a perfect storm.”

One specific issue was the fact that three of the restaurant’s six line cooks contracted Covid at the same time and, as a result, were off work for a while. Add to that the prices of food hitting “outrageous” levels as a result of supply-chain issues.

“We almost can’t change the menu fast enough to adapt,” he said.

He is left owning the adjacent restaurant Cut151 Supper Club, which “requires a lot less help. It’s only 90 seats compared to 250 (for Blu).” With the patio, Blu could accommodate 300 diners, said Friedlander, who leases the restaurant space.

“I don’t know what I’m doing day to day. It’s the places that seem to survive, almost thrive, do a tremendous amount of takeout” like pizza or Italian places, he said.

The year 2019 was busy for Friedlander, and the Beachwood spaces he has owned have been a culinary carousel of sorts.

He closed his longstanding and well-regarded Moxie, the Restaurant in April of that year. He replaced it with Blu in July, then followed five months later with Rosso Italia in the adjacent space. The Rosso Italia location had been a Red, the Steakhouse. The spaces have an adjoining patio.

At Blu, he left the tasteful mural on the wall and the famed Moxie burger on the menu, but wanted the new space to have its own identity. The 6,200-square-foot space took on a seafood focus and revamped design with a mix of new tables, banquettes and booths.

Rosso Italia lasted four months, then closed because of coronavirus. Friedlander then converted the Italian restaurant into Cut151 in November 2021.

Cut151′s menu offers a variety of fine-dining choices, from various cuts of beef, ribs and rack of lamb to extensive seafood offerings. It also features weekly specials, happy hour, half-off wine bottles under $100 on Mondays, crab specials and more.

Blu’s closing amounts to a tough pill to swallow for the owner whose restaurant resume includes previous openings of the well-regarded Lopez, Café Brio and Red, the Steakhouse.

“I don’t even know what to say about it,” he said. “I would like to reopen Blu. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Related coverage: Here’s our look at Blu’s opening in 2019 – story, photos, video

I am on cleveland.com’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.

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