In honor of Bobby Taylor, one of the men responsible for the creation of MainStreet Cleveland, a special award was designed. It was presented at Wednesday evening’s MainStreet Christmas party.
Over 100 people attended the party, held at the Home Loan Center of Bank of Cleveland. Coincidentally, Taylor was the CEO and chairman of Bank of Cleveland before his death a few years ago, and it is now supervised by his son, Scott.
Keith Barrett, MainStreet Cleveland board chairman, introduced the new award and announced the first winner of the award, Allan Jones.
“Taylor joined the efforts of Allan Jones to establish MainStreet Cleveland in 1990,” Barrett said. “The award seeks to honor and recognize individuals who display a long-term commitment to the preservation and development of downtown Cleveland.”
Jones amply met the criteria for the award that was developed by the MainStreet board of directors. The criteria stated that the honoree must be an active MainStreet member for a minimum of 10 years, have made a material economic investment in downtown Cleveland or played a material role in economic development or restructuring efforts of downtown, and exemplify the mission statement of MainStreet Cleveland.
The award recipient was nominated by Scott Taylor, and while Jones was unable to attend the Christmas event, had his granddaughter Gincy receive the award from Mayor Tom Rowland.
“Bobby Taylor was one of my best friends, and I miss him. He did so much for downtown Cleveland and our recipient has done the same,” Rowland said while preparing to present the award.
The Bobby Taylor Award was not the only award presented at Wednesday’s Christmas gathering. The traditional MainStreet Cleveland Award went to Catch Bar and Grill, and to co-owners Michael Poore and Clay Walker.
“The building that now houses our winners’ business has a long history, which they continue to research,” said Barrett. “Years of neglect had left this row of buildings all but abandoned. There were no residents, and very little commercial space being utilized.”
Barrett said that with work done in the area off Inman Street, it was discussed how Cleveland had no seafood restaurant.
“The love of the Gulf Coast and Asian cuisines are polar opposites, but both are favorites of my palate,” said Poore. “It’s not everywhere one can find a true New Orleans style oyster po’ boy and Japanese blue-fin tuna on the same menu.”
Soon, a menu for the proposed business was developed. Next was discussion with city officials on restoring the area.
“The building has now been restored, a beautiful park sits behind the restaurant, the neighborhood is thriving and we are honored to welcome locals and visitors from all over,” Poore added. “We’re happy to have created this place we call ‘Catch,’ and we hope you enjoy it too.”
Barrett also took the opportunity Wednesday night to talk about what has occurred during the year, and what the future holds for downtown Cleveland.
“This is the first Christmas party that our new city manager, Joe Fivas, has been able to attend, and we are encouraged about his plans for the downtown revitalization. Also, we appreciate Lee University for the wonderful expansion that the school has done in our community,” he said.
“We also want to thank Matt Jenne and United Community Bank for donating the Christmas tree that it now in our First Street Square, and are looking forward to a project initiated by Robert Thompson for streetscaping, where plants will be put along the trees in area of downtown Cleveland,” Barrett added.
MainStreet Cleveland Executive Director Sharon Marr thanked Bank of Cleveland for hosting the Christmas event.
“For the past 25 years, we have been at the Bank of Cleveland, and this year, we moved over to the bank’s Home Loan Center, and this is the perfect spot for our party,” she said.
Marr also thanked Dewey Woody, who for the past 21 years, has coordinated the annual Christmas parade. She said that there were 270 entries this year, and that it stretched three miles in length.
“He had been in Gatlinburg all that week helping with the wildfire-fighting efforts, but was able to come back to Cleveland and help with the parade, and we appreciate all that he has done for so many years,” she said.
Pedego Tennessee Valley, a local retailer, received the award for having the most festively decorated downtown window for Christmas, and received a $250 gift certificate for dining in the downtown area.
“It is always great to get together, see old friends and make new friends, and I believe that everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves,” Marr added.
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