Key West Cafe, Cleveland, Ohio

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For the better part of a decade, the Key West Café provided a refreshing and recharging getaway at the end (or middle) of the work day.

Developed in the 1980s by the noted local development company, The Richard E. Jacobs Group, the Galleria has long served as one of only two sizable retail facilities in the city’s central business district (the other being Forest City Enterprise’s Tower City Center at Public Square). The crisply monumental style of architect Kober/Belluschi Associate’s design for the Galleria tends to fight applied exterior signage.

So, when contemplating tenancy within the somewhat anonymous glass-and-spandrel prism of the Galleria’s northwest corner overlooking East Ninth Street, the owners of Key West Café turned to Rick Zimmerman of ZZ Design to create an appropriate street presence. Rick’s free-standing sculptural ‘lollipop’ sign featured die-cut metals, neon and vivacious Caribbean colors.

This sign, reflected in the modern façade of The Galleria, carried forth the message of Key West Café’s logo, marketing and branding: nighttime fun and festivity accompanied by signature island fare — seafood, fruit salads, tropical drinks, Haitian ‘jerk’ entrees and other Caribbean specialties. Completing the presentation were modest prices, live music, island art and artifacts, plentiful plants and casually-attired staff.

The design of the exterior pole sign was also manifest as the restaurant’s brand logo, and appeared as well on menus, interior décor, staff uniforms and promotional items. 

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