Familiar faces and a dream come true at New Heights Grill
by Richard Stewart
If you claim longtime Heights residency or have, through the years, found reasons to keep coming back, you may not know Kelly Kral and Adam Faller by name. But if either of them were standing in front of you, you’d be hard pressed not to say to yourself, “Oh yeah, they look really familiar.”
That’s because, between the two of them, they’ve logged upwards of 50 years of combined experience in the restaurant business. What is more remarkable is that all of it has been spent working in the Heights.
“I’ve pretty much lived on Corydon Road since 1968,” said Kral. “I just like the community, and St. Ann’s is really a big part of that. I have a great following of teachers who followed me from different locations." Kral inadvertently dated herself in referencing what is now known as Communion of Saints, no longer St. Ann’s. Call it longevity.
Late last year, the two restaurateurs—who have been an item for well over a decade, ever since meeting while working at the Colony—teamed up with Kral’s son, Bobby, to open the New Heights Grill. One of Cleveland Heights’s newest restaurants, it opened late last year in the space formerly occupied by Ariyoshi.
For Kral and Faller, it’s the realization of a dream after years of cutting their teeth in the business. “It’s different when you’re doing it for yourself,” said Faller. “I feel like I have more responsibility, and when I’m not here, I feel like I need to be here. And I want to be here. It’s kind of what we know.”
The fare is what one might expect from a bar, but with an emphasis on freshness. “It’s bar food,” said Kral, ”but it’s also handmade. We make our own burgers. It’s fresh ground beef; we don’t freeze it. Same goes for the chicken tenders, our deep fried pickles and the golden mozzarella,” added Faller.
Kevin Nixon, general manager, and John Petras, kitchen manager, round out the leadership team and are dedicated to making it all work for the long-term. Kral placed great faith in their Lee Road location and feels like her combined 28 years spent working within a three-block radius on the street will pay dividends.
“I love the idea of being on Lee Road.” said Kral. “I‘m a talker and I like to meet people and chat. There’s great support from the people who followed me. It’s touching. People come in and they shout ‘I found you! I’ve been looking for you.’ People are genuinely happy that we got to do what we do because they know how hard we’ve worked.”
Perhaps what the ownership team places the most value in their ability to do business and give back to community they know and love. “We sponsored two children in the Cleveland Heights summer soccer program,” said Faller. “We’re trying to do a lot of things like that. It brings more families into the restaurant and I believe that if we’re making money in the community, we should be putting money back into the community.”
Faller’s feelings of entrenchment in the Heights community far outweigh his desire to abandon the area for what some may consider greener pastures. “We wanted to be in the area . . . just growing up here. If we make good money here, we’re going to stay. I’m going to keep our house in Cleveland Heights.”