Insider’s Perspective: Ryan Kenneth “Mickey” McLean
EDITOR’S NOTE: We talked to a few notable Clevelanders and asked them what they liked about Northeast Ohio. Here’s Ryan Kenneth “Mickey” McLean, popular chef at Ohio City’s Flying Fig and Cosmo’s Sexiest Bachelor.
I think you were born in Rochester. So when did you move to Cleveland?
I came here in 1999. It’s crazy, because I was actually just traveling through. I was done with a job in Nashville and was moving back to Rochester. Since I went to a Jesuit school in New York and I knew a couple of guys at John Carroll, I called them and asked them if I could crash. I hung out all weekend, met a few people and next thing I knew I was here for four or five weeks. I picked up the applications for John Carroll and within two months came back for school.
And what part of town do you live in now?
What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?
It’s unique because you have this dichotomy of young college students and young families and there are a number of elementary schools. You also have Orthodox Jews because of the temples and the ability to work there. It’s a unique situation especially as you get closer to campus. One house is for college kids, the next is for rabbis and the next is for college kids. Saturdays are crazy around here between all the kids walking home and the people going off to temple.
In general, what do you like best about living in Cleveland?
The people. I had this conversation on Friday night with somebody from Florida. The people in general are good family people. The woman who grew up in Florida said everyone was so welcoming and nice here. In Florida, you just have your one little community and nobody goes outside of that box.
Oh, and then there is the seasons. After growing up in upstate New York, I really enjoy the seasons. This part of the country up to the Northeast and into New England, those are the only parts of the country where you get the four distinct seasons. We know up here what winter is. I like the fall and I like the leaves. I could never do year round palm trees.
I think it’s great that since winning Cosmo’s Sexiest Bachelor award you’ve tried to put in a good word about Cleveland.
I’ve been pumping it. It’s unique because of the timing, there were a lot of questions about me leaving, not that there are any parallels between me and LeBron James. But people kept asking me, “Do you plan on leaving here?” I love it here. I think you’re hard pressed to find another city or part of the country that has so much to offer. There are three major sports teams here, there is one of the best orchestras, there are unbelievable parks and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. I don’t ever hear the standard “there’s nothing to do here.” If you say that, you’re not looking.
How would you describe the local restaurant scene?
It’s good. In the past few years, it’s gotten a lot better. East Fourth, Tremont and Ohio City are all great. Moving away from downtown, there’s a lot of stuff out there. It’s exciting. There are more options than when I first moved here.
And what about the nightlife?
I like the offshoot neighborhoods. I love Tremont and Ohio City and Coventry and Little Italy and Chagrin Falls. There are so many nook neighborhoods. I like Tremont. I’m a fan of the Southside. If I do go downtown, the Map Room on Ninth is a good spot. East Fourth is fun.
I know you’re a fan of the West Side Market. Do you have a favorite vendor?
I don’t. I’m over there for work a lot and I deal with the same people and that’s coming from above me, what the chef wants. I don’t have a favorite vendor there personally but I hit up quite a few different places. If you don’t get an apple fritter, you’re crazy.
I think I read you’re into hiking. Do you have a favorite trailhead?
I am in University Heights and I spend some time in the South Chagrin Reservation. There’s Squaw Rock, I think they call it. It’s cool out there in the winter. There’s a ton of ice. I just went to Hocking Hills for the first time about a month ago and it was awesome.
What’s the city’s best-kept secret?
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. Nobody is familiar with it. I had to go there for a modeling shoot. It was like seven miles from my house. It looks like the elementary school you went to. There are these huge rooms of flowers and ferns and cacti. There is room after room with all different species of flowers, and they have a tropical room. I was like “What is this?” Back in the day when budgets weren’t as tight, they used it as a propagation greenhouse all year round. As budgets got cut, they stopped doing it but kept it open for classes and if you wanted to have your wedding photos taken there. To this day, it has room after room of gardens. It’s completely free. It’s a public building. Every once in a while, I’ll pull over and just walk through there. It’s insane and it’s just up off MLK where the Italian cultural gardens are.
– Interviewed by Jeff Niesel
Tags: chagrin falls, Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, cleveland orcehstra, Cleveland Plus, cosmo, cosmo's sexiest bachelor, Coventry, e. 4th street, flying fig, jeff niesel, john carroll, Little Italy, mickey mclean, midwest, Ohio, Ohio City, Positively Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, rockefeller park greenhouse, ryan kenneth mickey mclean, ryan mclean, south chagrin reservation, travel, Tremont, University Heights, West Side Market
About PositivelyClevelandPositively Cleveland is the destination marketing organization that has been promoting business and leisure tourism to Cleveland for more than 75 years.
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