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Downtown Cleveland: Ashley Basile Oeken

Downtown Cleveland at night

Greenhouse Tavern

The rooftop patio of the Velvet Dog on St. Patrick's Day

Positively Cleveland

Ashley Basile Oeken is the Executive Director of Engage! Cleveland, an organization that targets young professionals in the Cleveland area. An Ohio native though not originally from Cleveland, Ashley earned her MBA at Youngstown State University and accepted a two-year fellowship in Cleveland after graduating, when she found she really enjoyed the city and especially the downtown area. The organization she had worked for was small and there weren't a lot of social opportunities for young professionals, so she had to get out and get involved in order to meet other people her age and engage the young professional community.
She got involved with the Cleveland ConneXion, a member consortium group of all of the different young professional organizations in the area. She saw what the group was doing to put Cleveland on the map and change the idea of what Cleveland was and wanted to be a part of that. She became a member representative and eventually, when the group decided that someone needed to be in the position of doing the work they were doing as a group full-time, she interviewed and was hired as the Executive Director of Engage! Cleveland in September 2012. "My civic action led me to this role," she says. Now it is her job to engage young professionals in Cleveland every single day. 
Ashley works in downtown Cleveland, which she calls "the hub of everything in northeast Ohio" with major employers, sporting events, Cleveland State University, nightlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities with Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

Dining & Drinking 
East Fourth Street is a recently-developed area downtown. The street is a pedestrian walkway closed off to traffic and is lined with bars and restaurants. In that area you'll find Cleveland's House of Blues as well as Pickwick & Frolic, a champagne bar and comedy club which brings in comedians from all across the country. Walking down the street you'll also find plenty of places featuring live music and local bands.
For the foodies, Ashley says the Greenhouse Tavern is phenomenal. This is one of the restaurants spearheading the sustainable agriculture movement in the city, and both the chef/owner and pastry chef have been nominated for prestigious James Beard awards.
Also from Jonathon Sawyer, the same owner as Greenhouse Tavern, is Noodlecat, an upscale Japanese concept serving steamed buns and ramen bowls with karaoke on Fridays and a great happy hour. Ashley describes this as a great place for a quick meal and very low-key.
West Ninth and West Sixth also have a lot of bars and restaurants lining the streets and offering a little something for everyone, from live music to DJs and other entertainment. Country fans should check out Tequila Ranch, a cowboy-themed bar. The Blind Pig is a great sports bar in the Warehouse District. The Velvet Dog has a fantastic rooftop patio that is one of the hottest spots in the summer and usually has a DJ or live music. Cleveland Whiskey is also worth a visit, as the first distillery to open in Cleveland since Prohibition. There are also upscale wine bars for those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.
Retail Therapy
Once you find yourself so enamored with the city you want to announce it to the world, stop by Cleveland Clothing Company store on East 4th. They carry clothing, books and other items all related to Cleveland.

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