Deborah Rutledge Presents Awards to Local Small Business Owners

Earlier in the week, the Uptown Business Association met to honor small business owners from the Cleveland area. Deborah Rutledge, acting as President of the UBA, helped introduce these men and women as the program progressed.

Small business owners from the Uptown business district– University Circle to Fairfax, Hough to Shaker Heights and beyond – gathered on the campus of Case Western Reserve University to celebrate the achievements of other business owners from the area. This was the third annual installment of the event and it welcomed owners of new businesses as well as more established entrepreneurs.

“The Uptown Business Association values this combination of new and old,” Deborah Rutledge said in her opening address during the event. “When we created this awards program three years ago, we wanted to make sure we highlighted business owners who have maintained a presence in one of the Uptown neighborhoods over the years, as well as those who took a risk not so long ago.”

This year’s crop of winners was a diverse crowd, aside from how recently their doors had opened. From collaborations between hip-hop groups and sustainable food providers and yoga studios, the field of winners was wide and varied.

Cleveland Yoga Uptown received the Best New Start-Up Award for its commitment to the neighborhood and providing a number of classes and workshops to a growing community of yoga enthusiasts.

“The studio sees hundreds of yoga students each week and holds 34 weekly classes in its hot studio,” Rutledge said. “In addition to their classes, Cleveland Yoga holds workshops and special events that appeal to a wide range of interest and support the community in a more holistic and balanced life.”

The award for the Best Multi-Generational or Family-Owned Business went to Jenna Juredine of the Barking Spider. Her late father, Martin Juredine, opened the tavern in 1986; and today the establishment continues to provide music a few days out of the week and all free of charge. The Barking Spider plays host to local artists in various genres, making it a prime location for live music.

The award for the Best Nonprofit-Local Business Relationship category went to two groups bonded by vegetables. Deejay Doc Harrill’s Fresh Camp and Bon Appetit came together recently to form a partnership that brought fresh food to children in the camp and purchased fresh food from local community gardens.

The final award for Uptown Business Association Champion was awarded to Mark Balogh and Ben Williams Jr., of the Coffee House University Circle and Ben’s Auto Body Specialists, respectively. These two men have been active in running the UBA while working in the neighborhood.

“Mark and his coffee house are fixtures in the University Circle community,” she said. “Ben Williams Jr., of Ben’s Auto Body Specialist in the Fairfax neighborhood, remain as passionate about supporting local businesses and connecting with one another as he did the day he signed up to volunteer with the UBA. Ben’s always willing to lend a helping hand and goes the extra mile to help everyone on their various car questions and concerns.”

Finally, the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership award was awarded to Sara Mierke.

After all the awards were handed out, a few of the students from the Fresh Camp performed original songs in order to close out the event and show just some of the fruits of the labor going on with small businesses in the area.