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The project began two years ago when Sage Hospitality, the hotel development and management parent company of Sage Restaurant Group, partnered with Optima Ventures to buy the dated and decrepit 472-room Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Centre for $9 million cash.

Work really got underway last December, when the $64.5 million renovation—“almost a complete gut job,” Karpinski says—began. The all-in cost for the whole project now totals closer to $80 million, he says, adding a good estimate for the price tag of the restaurant is $300 per square foot.



At 7,000 square feet, that adds up to $2.1 million, which sounds like a modest number for everything the restaurant will entail. But that’s the beauty of Sage’s approach. The restaurant division is afforded luxuries and efficiencies most competitors are not, with obvious examples being this early access and start on a project within a hotel, and the shared resources available in the Denver office, from personnel to procedures to products.

If history is any indication, Urban Farmer Cleveland will become one of the top dining spots in a city with an already strong culinary scene. The outpost in Portland is critically acclaimed (named one of the best steakhouses in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure), as are Sage Restaurant Group’s eight other concepts. This will be the company’s first sequel, after what Karpinski describes as a phase of creating a “library of great concepts” that could be replicated. The dynamic young leader brought the restaurant division to Sage in 2005 and he’s now ready to start building out individual brands.