Distinctly Downtown: We Gallery

Creative inspiration.
Everyone has a creative side, but most people need inspiration before they can create amazing works of art. If you’re anything like me, you can use a creative push sometimes. Downtown Akron Partnership would like to reintroduce you to the We Gallery. We Gallery is the perfect place to spark your creative nature. we-gallery-logo

We Gallery opened in 2008 when two sisters decided to collectively bring handmade fine art to Downtown Akron. The name “We” means more than one and “Gallery” means building or location. When put together the name “We Gallery” means bringing together all art forms in one location and that’s what the two sisters did. Erin and Karyn Ludlam created a retail space that allows you view and purchase the beautiful hand- crafted art on display.


Reasonably priced hand-crafted jewelry

Before the sisters opened We Gallery, Erin successfully managed an art gallery in California where she developed long lasting relationships with artists around the United States. Karyn, fine arts graduate of The University of Akron, convinced Erin they could run an art gallery here with Erin’s national contacts and Karyn’s artistic ceramics pieces and her local contacts We Gallery was born. The gallery carries local and national handmade items that are available for sale such as ceramics, fine jewelry, paintings and photographs.

We gallery pottery wheel

Pottery wheel demo during Artwalk

As you enter through the door of We Gallery, the first thing you will notice is the jewelry case. Inside of the case are handmade one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry such as rings, earrings and necklaces. “The jewelry is reasonably priced to fit any shoppers’ budget,” said Karyn. “The jewelry is really popular and sells pretty fast.” As you continue to walk around you will see beautiful glass blown bowls, vases and table center pieces from designers in New York and California. In the back of the store you will also see a display of ceramic pieces created by Karyn. This room also has a display of painting and photographs on the wall from local artists and another jewelry case that shows rings made of vintage buttons. The center part of the back room has a table where handmade purses, small sculptures and one-of-a-kind greeting cards are located. As you gaze around the store in amazement you will become aware of this creative energy the store has from the displays of artwork to the vintage feel of the actual building. The We Gallery has created a retail location where you can shop and become inspired to tap into your own creative talent.

Downtown Akron has numerous family-friendly shops and restaurants but if you are looking for a place to draw some creative inspiration, please visit We Gallery located at 20 N. Main Street. Hours of operation are Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. We Gallery is also a part of the monthly Artwalk.

By: Ciara Milton 
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: The Coffee Pot

photo 5The owners of the Stew Pot Kitchen are proud to announce the opening of their new business called “The Coffee Pot” located inside the Akron-Summit Library near the Main Street entrance. Scott Malensek, the owner, thought it would be a wonderful idea to offer customers a quick, grab-and-go, breakfast that’s not offered at the Stew Pot. The main reason why Scott decided to open The Coffee Pot is because his customers kept asking him to serve breakfast. Since the Stew Pot Kitchen is only 180 paces from the library, he gets a lot of people and employees from the library come into the Stew Pot. The employees from the library told him about the empty space inside the first floor of the library and Scott thought it was the perfect place to serve breakfast to his customers. The Stew Pot Kitchen and The Coffee Pot are both family-owned; Scott works with his wife and kids which makes both restaurants family-friendly.

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The Coffee Pot has a very settled, calm, and quiet environment with veggie plants growing in the windows and new paintings and photos hung on the walls. The vegetable plants growing inside of the Coffee Pot are used in the recipes at both restaurants, which makes the food even better since the plants are homegrown! The plants consist of basil, (for the tomato basil soup), hot peppers, lettuce, cherry and yellow tomatoes, cucumbers and much more. Since the Coffee Pot just opened they are still doing renovations on the inside. Scott likes to feature local artist work and by the end of the year he wants to make the Coffee Pot an “urban jungle”. He wants it to be warm and a bright green space whenever it’s grey and nasty outside in the winter. “Next time we get seven months of winter, I want it to be summer in the Coffee Pot,” he said.

The Stew Pot Kitchen offers soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch while the Coffee Pot offers grab-and-go food and drinks that are made to order. They serve a wide variety of coffee and tea that change daily.

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They offer Jamaican coffee that smells strong but taste light, kind of like tea, and it tastes amazing. Another coffee they offer is Kenya coffee, the smell is just what you would imagine Africa to smell like with a strong taste. The Coffee Pot also offers salami and American cheese, custom roast beef with homegrown lettuce sandwiches, basic salads, muffins, fresh fruit, and to-go snacks for when you’re in a hurry. In the near future, Scott plans to add more items to the Coffee Pot menu that includes more flavors of coffee and more sandwiches. He also wants to grow more varieties of plants in the Coffee Pot along with getting more artist work on the walls to give it that urban jungle feeling.

The Coffee Pot and The Stew Pot Kitchen have pretty much everything in common. Everyone who works at the Stew Pot Kitchen also works at The Coffee Pot. The customers that come into the Stew Pot for lunch also come into the Coffee Pot to grab a quick coffee and sandwich for breakfast. The Stew Pot offers a wide variety of soups, have you looked at their website? There are over 100 different kinds of soups, all from the customer’s feedback! Scott is the kind of person who loves customer input, every soup and sandwich on his menu has had some kind of customer feedback, like if they have suggestions on what he should add to it. He really values his customers and what they have to say about his recipes. If you don’t like the soup that you ordered, tell them and they will keep trying until they get it perfect just for your satisfaction. Most of the ingredients put into the soups are homegrown or they get them from a local homegrown market. They not only grow plants inside of the Coffee Pot, they also have their own garden at their home and that’s how the Tomato Basil soup is made.

The Coffee Pot is a unique addition to Downtown Akron with a homey, calm, and green photo 3 (1)environment that is always welcoming. He wants to make his customers happy by offering the best coffee and food in town. So stop by and have a cup of coffee before work or stop by the Stew Pot Kitchen and try their phenomenal tomato basil soup or their famous chili.

This year in July marks the 4th anniversary of the Stew Pot Kitchen and they are offering specials everyday and lots of awesome deals. Check their Facebook daily to catch the new specials offered the whole month of July.

By: Hillary Walker
DAP Intern


Distinctly Downtown: Biking To Work

suzie biking 2Inspired by the Chicago 8-80 Doable Cities Forum in Chicago last week and AMATS’ Switching Gears Active Transportation Conference yesterday I rediscovered a love for my neighborhood this morning by biking to work! Only eight minutes slower than driving in (obeying speed limits) and far better for my health and sense of well-being, my 20 minute ride began by appreciating how my old Akron street is built at a beautiful human scale with porches and windows facing the street to encourage a watchful and engaged neighborhood.

Every pedestrian I passed, even on the four lane Market Street route that I took, smiled and said hello. I took the street versus the sidewalk and braved the traffic. Cycling is not just for the lycra people – stuff a blazer and change of shoes in your backpack ad enjoy the ride. Hooray for our old neighborhood streets, built close-in to the city center so we can take advantage of a better life.

Skip the suburbs, stay in Akron. Thanks to the Knight Foundation for inspiring us to think differently about modes of transit and their impact on quality of life. Hope to see you at the lunchtime University of Akron’s How We Roll bike tour today with the fabulous Christine Mayer, president of GAR Foundation! The lunchtime bike rides take place every Friday at 12:15 p.m. with the Market at Lock 3. Click here for a full schedule of rides and celebrity tour guides and be sure to join us.

By: Suzie Graham
President, Downtown Akron Partnership

Distinctly Downtown: Towpath Trail

Spring has arrived, which means it’s time to get out and enjoy some sunshine. The blog Towpath_Downtown '04Towpath Trail runs through the city of Akron allowing residents and visitors to bike or walk when the weather is nice. The Towpath is great for any exercise or leisure activities around or in the city. The trail makes it easy to navigate to different attractions located throughout the city. “There are so many things to see via the Towpath Trail through downtown Akron,” said Lynn Williams, executive assistant/office manager of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

The final stretch of the Towpath Trail that allows users to stop at various attractions in downtown Akron was completed in October of 2011. This was a major step for the Towpath because Akron was the first city to be marked on the trails map. It made the city more accessible for users to explore all it has to offer. Residents and users have the options of getting off of the trail at Lock 1, Lock 2, Lock 3, State Street, and Bowery & Quaker Street, The Towpath Bridge at the Innerbelt (Route 59), Beech Street and the Mustill Store.

howe houseThe Richard Howe House Visitor Center, located at 47 West Exchange Street, serves as an information center, which has been restored to its original beauty. If you decide to cross over the bridge along the Towpath you will find yourself at Canal Park Stadium, home of the RubberDucks, or maybe catching a quick meal at Bricco, Cilantro or the Barley House. If you continue down the Towpath you will find yourself at Lock 2, an urban park that is the home of a reconstructed canal lock with a ghost frame of a life sized 1820s canal freighter boat. The next stop on the trail is Lock 3. Here you will find a large variety of entertainment. The area hosts live concerts, Akron festivals, a Farmers Market and the Holiday Market. If you decide to get off the trail at Lock 3 you will be among many restaurants such as The Lockview, the Peanut Shoppe, Baxter’s and Street Treats Grill. The Akron Civic Theatre is located here as well for more entertainment options. The next stop on the trail is Lock 4, home of the Lock Bottom Blues and Jazz Club. You can cross over Bowery Street and take the Towpath Connector Bridge over Route 59 to the Mustill Store and Visitor Center at Lock 15. The store opened in 2000 and offers the history of the Cascade Locks with the development of Akron.

blog Hikers & BikersThe Towpath Trail now provides access for those bikers or walkers who are not as experienced to still enjoy some good fun. The Bike Aboard program allows users to bike to a destination and take a short train ride back to their original destination for only $3 each way. “It allows you to take your bike on board the train, and ride one way on the train, and bike back,” said Lynn. Starting in May, Bike Aboard will be offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In June it will begin being offered Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. The train can be easily flagged down by standing on the deck station 10 minutes prior to the train’s arrival schedule. The fee must be paid in exact when you first board.

The Towpath Trail gets you to numerous exciting destinations with just a short ride or walk. Downtown Akron is booming with live music, great food and the arts. The Towpath is a great way to explore the city. “It’s fun for all ages,” said Lynn. Come out and take a ride or stroll along the Towpath Trail to see what the city of Akron has to offer you.

By: Madeline Hartman
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Spirits of the Civic – A Pirate’s Adventure

Ready to enjoy a fun themed party featuring Rum and Whiskey tastings, with entertainment from the Parrots of the Caribbean – The Ultimate Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band — and “spirits” that will show you a hauntingly good time?

ImageThe Akron Civic Theatre presents a themed Spirits of the Civic – A Pirate’s Adventure. The Civic will be transformed into a tropical paradise during the annual gala, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.

The night begins for guests as they enter into the mystical high seas on the Civic’s Mezzanine level, where they will enjoy hearty appetizers and dance the jig while listening to The University of Akron Steel Drum Band. The night continues to unfold with a special rum bar and whiskey tastings. Guests must be careful not to be lured away by the beauty of a mysterious mermaid waiting to captivate susceptible fellows. The scandalous pirate Davey Jones will be there to bedevil and amuse – but don’t cross him and end up in his locker!

Guests then enjoy the music of Mo’ Mojo followed by The Parrots of the Caribbean on stage, all from their private “skybox” view in the balcony. A fun live auction will ensue. Desserts and coffee will round out the night.

Fifth Third Bank returns as this year’s presenting sponsor. Sponsors at the Admirals of the Black level are Akron Civic Theatre Women’s Guild, Hahn Loeser + Parks LLP and Rapid Restoration Response. At the Swashbucklers level are Akron General and Roetzel and Andress; at the Me Hearties level Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations; at the Scallywags level The Berroteran Group and Markham Machine Co. Inc.; and at the Maties level Levin Swedler Crum, Main Street Gourmet, MS Consultants and NEO Administration.

Ticket price is $150. Ticket includes valet parking, off Bowery St. You must be 21 to enter. Tickets are available by calling the Akron Civic Theatre at (330) 535-3179 or online at www.spiritsofthecivic.com.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Akron Civic Theatre. 

Guests are encouraged to come dressed for the occasion. Mr. Fun’s Costumes and Magic Emporium is giving a 10% discount on costume rentals or product purchased for this event if mentioned at the time of purchase.

The full Akron Civic Theatre schedule is available at www.akroncivic.com.  Additional events will be added throughout the season.  Tickets and information are available in person at The Civic Box Office or by calling 330.253.2488.

Distinctly Downtown: Akron Glass Works

ImageWith the cold weather seeming to never end, Akron Glass Works invites all to join them for demos, workshops and shopping in their bright and warm studio. The studio makes it easy to forget about the winter blues with the combinations of beautiful handmade glass and live plants. Jack Baker, owner of Akron Glass Works and one of the artists, was inspired by a trip he took with the Akron Art Museum to Seattle. He took glassblowing classes in Kent, but soon decided he needed to open his own studio if he wanted to succeed as a glassblower. In 2006, Jack made the decision to expand his Architectural Greenery space to make room for a glassblowing studio. He combined his two passions into a creative and unique space that has a little something for everyone.

Each weekend the studio offers classes where community members can come and try glass blowing for themselves. Class sizes are limited to five people per class, but there are two sessions per weekend. “A lot of people end up loving the class and come back. They bring their friends back too, which helps the word get out about our studio,” said Sandy Holata, a glass fuse artist at the studio.  In February, the workshops made paperweight hearts to go along with the Valentine’s Day theme of the month. Glass Fusing classes are also offered in the evenings. The days vary between Wednesdays and Fridays depending on scheduling. This past month the glass fusing class had a date night where participants sampled wine and cheese while working on their homemade glass valentines. Future workshops will be making birds for the springtime and flowers for Mother’s Day. Image

The gift shop has a combination of all the glasswork that is created in the studio. The pieces make unique and beautiful gifts for the holidays or any special occasion. “People really appreciate buying unique and locally handmade gifts for the holidays,” said Sandy.

The studio is expanding not in size of space, but in knowledge and local support. This past year there were about 600 community members who participated in the weekend glassblowing workshops and 100 who took part in the glass fusing work shops. There are community members who come into the studio to watch a demo and stay until the piece is complete and then end up wanting to buy it from the artist. “It’s unique when someone can say they watched an art piece being made and then be able to purchase it. It is good for our artists and cool for the buyer to have such an experience,” said Sandy.

ImageThe artists love being in the Northside. They are close to the Akron Art Museum and other galleries as well. They often times see people who are waiting in line at Luigi’s and stop in saying they never knew the studio existed. The artists are also very excited about the opening of Jilly’s Music Room. Now that the studio is open on Saturday evenings again they are hoping the crowd of Jilly’s will bring more people into the studio as well.

Akron Glass Works is a great place to explore any day of the week. Whether you would like to try glass blowing or fusing for yourself or you just want to check out the gift shop, it is not a place to miss. The art will blow you away with its details and time it took to create such unique pieces.

By: Madeline Hartman
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Akron Home & Flower Show

ImageIt may be hard to believe, but the Akron HBA Home and Flower Show, presented by Window Pro, the Marvin Experts, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. For 20 straight years the greater Akron area has enjoyed its own unique home and flower show. The 2014 event is Friday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 2 at the John S. Knight Center in Downtown Akron. Show hours are 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 and discounted tickets are available at AkronHomeandFlowerShow.com.

The show contains feature gardens sponsored by MJH Contractors, outdoor living exhibits, HFS gardenhome decorating, remodeling products, services and much more. This year the Professional Remodelers Council will produce a Home for Life Display. This display will show a before and after bathroom make over. Both are done using the same amount of floor space.

In addition, the show will feature an Eco Living display with everything from baby chicks that grow up to be egg laying hens, to vertical vegetable gardens and solar panels to generate your own electricity. Learn about living more sustainably through displays on natural foods, recycling and storm water and soil erosion. The entire Eco Living area is sponsored by Wolff Brothers Supply and SolarMax.

ImageOne national celebrity apparing is John Gidding of HGTV’s popular Curb Appeal show. John is an accomplished designer that will have tips on how to turn your dull home into a show place. Also visiting the show on Saturday is Channel 3’s meteorologist, Betsy King, who will be available to chat and sign autographs.

In addition, Dr. Lori, an appraiser on the popular show Auction Kings, will also appear. Dr. Lori is the only celebrity ever brought back two years in a row. Bring antiques, art work and other collectibles and she will appraise it on the show’s Kemppel Homes main stage.

Once again, the HBA will team up with WAKR and WONE to produce their annual prize contest. This year’s prizes are components that make up a true man’s cave. Items such as furnishings, large screen TV, a catered party and a gaming table are all part of the package. The total value is over $15,000. Listeners can qualify on air.

This year’s show will also feature Nick’s Grotto sponsored by SileStone distributed by ILSD. The grotto will be done by Nick’s Landscaping and counter tops will be Silestone. The grotto contains a beer and wine bar featuring beers by Thirsty Dog Brewery and Wines provided by the Winery at Wolf Creek.

With over 200 displays there is plenty to see. It is a pleasant way to spend a cold afternoon or evening and be reminded by the sights, sound and smells that spring is right around the corner. Come to the Akron Home and Flower Show and get inspired once again.


Distinctly Downtown: Akron RubberDucks

Akron RubberDucks Prepare for the 2014 Season

With the official pitchers and catchers report only 10 days away, the front office at Canal Park is excited to talk baseball again (as if they ever stopped!) Staff of the Akron RubberDucks, formerly the Akron Aeros, has high expectations for the upcoming 2014 season. Although Owner Ken Babby received negative feedback from fans initially, the transformation to the RubberDucks has been nothing but beneficial to the club. Adam Liberman, Director of Public and Media Relations, explains the reasoning behind the unique name; Image“We wanted to attract a newer generation of people, while honoring the history of the city of Akron.” He mentions how Akron is known nationally for their contributions to the rubber industry and finds it important to associate this rich past with the modern team.

This name change is not the only new thing to expect this season! Construction of “The Game Grill + Bar” has already begun above right field in the ballpark. Other attractions to anticipate include the demolition of the bleachers in right field to be replaced with an adult Tiki Bar, and the addition of a new picnic area near left field. From $2 hotdogs at every home game, to movie nights and family FUNdays; from $1 draught beer and soda thirsty Thursdays, to midget wrestling nights, fans are guaranteed entertainment regardless of the product on the field (although we predict satisfaction from the RubberDucks as well.)Image

Liberman looks forward to being surrounded by screaming fans on opening day, where he will watch the players run onto the field in their brand new Akron RubberDucks jerseys; an indication that baseball season is finally in full “swing” again. Come on down and bring the whole gang to Canal Park on April 10 to join Liberman and the rest of the Akron RubberDucks for an entire season of family affordable fun. Let’s go “QuAkron!”

By: Bre Koch, DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Damascus Road Coffee

Damascus Road Coffee
106 S. Main St.
Hours: Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.


For three years, Rob and Deb Stertz have served fresh roasted coffee, food and friendly service to Downtown Akron. Damascus Road Coffee provides a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere that many corporate employees enjoy during their breaks. All coffee is custom roasted, using only the finest quality coffee beans in their roasting process. Accessed both from the Arcade Level and Mill Street in the FirstMerit Tower in

Stop in for a variety of hot and cold drinks or a roasted coffee drink of your choice, and pair it with a sandwich or soup. All of the Damascus sandwiches are hearty and made to order to suit your favorite flavors. Try a Turkey Pastrami or an Angus Roast Beef with your choice of cheese, bread and condiments.  Damascus offers daily fresh baked cookies and brownies, as well as fruit cups of assorted fresh produce.  Specialty drinks include hot chocolate, chai tea latte, steamers and mocha. With over 10 a la carte flavors, Damascus provides plenty of variety to choose from.

Don’t be discouraged if you see a line already formed as you walk in, it’s just other regulars, ready to pick up their favorite items.  A woman who works in the Cascade building said that she is a frequent customer and always gets the egg salad. “It’s always fresh,” she explained. “It’s the best egg salad I’ve had other than my own!” An employee from FirstMerit declared that the cinnamon muffins were his favorite item, and said, “Damascus Road Coffee is always a friendly atmosphere.”

Damascus Road Coffee by the pound and tea by the stash is now available for purchase. Enjoy a premium tea like Fusion Green and White Tea or English Breakfast Black Tea at home. Coffees by the pound include the Ethiopian, bold in intensity with a sweet aftertaste, Organic Colombian, a smooth coffee with creamy chocolate tones, Breakfast Blend, a mild coffee with blends of chocolate and mild citrus, and many others!

Owners Rob and Deb intentionally pursue friendly relationships with their customers and know the majority of them by name. From noticing a new outfit, to asking how a project is coming along, the customers have an established relationship and seem happy to be there and catch up. A FirstMerit employee remarked that he comes in for “A dark roast coffee and good conversation.”

Distinctly Downtown: The Beauty Lounge

The Beauty Lounge
70 E Mill St        

The Beauty Lounge is a great location for Downtowners to beautify and enjoy the overall salon experience! New owner Erin Blackiston, previously employed with RUSK Hair International for six years, strongly believes in continued education for her stylists and the best customer service for her clients. New décor of classic pictures projecting a clean and modern feel makes The Beauty Lounge experience enjoyable for all. With a new owner and new look, you’re promised a fresh experience.

At this laid back salon, each artist will feel like your friend, not just your stylist.  The salon is ideal for busy clientele due to their flexible scheduling options and late evening hours. The non-traditional hours are perfect for anyone with a demanding work schedule. Pick a day to stop by at The Beauty Lounge to wind down after your hectic day, or stop in during your lunch hour for a swift beauty touch up. The Beauty Lounge provides beauty services that suit a variety of requests. Erin explained that her salon does modern, clean cuts as well as easy to manage every day styles. From a sophisticated, classic bob to an asymmetrical fashion forward style, The Beauty Lounge embodies diversity in their hair cuts. The stylists also demonstrate expertise in gray coverage and color correction which they frequently perform.

Get ready to celebrate the Grand Reopening of The Beauty Lounge on Saturday, May 5 from 6-9 p.m.! SKYBIRDKREATIONS Photography will be displayed throughout the salon, featuring black and white photos of Downtown Akron. The Grand Reopening, which takes place during the Artwalk, will give newcomers a chance to meet the staff and talk hair! Look out for a raffle of beauty products that will be announced over wine and appetizers. Even if you don’t win, all Kevin Murphy products will be discounted 25%!

Artist Sonya Rookstol described her work place as ideal. She discussed how she gets to show her expertise through a variety of clientele. “It’s fun, creative and a positive atmosphere,” she said. Knowledge of hair trends and treatments have lead Erin’s stylists to offer popular hair styles such as ombre, a color treatment that gives a natural look of cascading color from darker to light.

The Beauty Lounge is a convenient location to get your hair styled on a regular basis, or just for a special occasion. Make an appointment, or walk-ins are always welcome!  New clients receive 10% off with Erin or Austin.