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Ohio mom to open alcohol-free bar, hangout in Ohio City this summer

<i>WEWS</i><br/>Verbena will serve up a variety of teas
Verbena will serve up a variety of teas

By Mike Holden

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    OHIO CITY, Ohio (WEWS) — Alcohol-free bars and restaurants continue to grow in popularity nationwide, following the pandemic.

A Northeast Ohio woman will soon be opening up the first of its kind in Ohio City.

She will serve up a variety of teas, elevated alcohol-free mixed cocktails, and other items.

The owner of “Verbena” says the pandemic opened her eyes.

It made her want to make a total career change from finance to running her own business.

The pandemic also helped her realize she and her husband never needed alcohol to have fun or survive.

“It’s such a great community here. There’s so many people out and about every day,” Molly Cheraso, owner of Verbena Free Spirited Shop said.

The spirit and colorful vibes of Ohio City’s historic Hingetown neighborhood lured Cheraso in and stole her heart.

It’s where she knew she had to start her first-ever business venture.

“It’s really a great community, and it’s filled with female entrepreneurs, which I’m really excited about,” Cheraso said.

In the weeks ahead, the Northeast Ohio mom will transform the former beloved Cleveland Tea Revival on the corner of West 29th and Church streets into “Verbena Free Spirited Shop”.

Beneath the paper covering the windows is her passion, in the form of an alcohol-free bar.

Out back— you’ll find a shared, sprawling patio for the perfect conversation spot.

“I was connected with Amber who owns Cleveland Tea Revival, and she was looking to take her business online and it was just perfect timing for both of us,” Cheraso said.

Cheraso will still sell some of Amber’s teas and foods but will also offer up a wide array of at least 100 alcohol-free products.

“Non-alcoholic wine, non-alcoholic beer, and there’s even non-alcoholic liquors, gin and whiskey,” Cheraso said.

She showed News 5 some of her top selections, from an alcohol-free rosé or “faux-sé” to a “phony negroni.”

“This is my favorite product of everything I tried. It’s fermented hemp,” Cheraso said.

Cheraso did her homework.

She even took her family to Connecticut to explore non-alcoholic options at Athletic Brewing Company.

Cheraso was inspired by their success and others who made similar ventures work in New York City.

She now aims to create a safe, welcoming space regardless of your life path and relationship with alcohol.

“It also works really well for people who are in some form of recovery, if they are on some medication where alcohol doesn’t agree with them or also religious reasons,” Cheraso said.

For Ohio City goers like Loren Naji, he’s eager to see an outside-of-the-box concept succeed.

“I think it’s a great idea. We need variety and things like that. There’s bars all over the place that serve alcohol. Why not have one that does alcohol-free?” Naji said.

Cheraso says she will also serve up cheese boards and appetizers.

It will be a tea and coffee shop during the day and an elevated alcohol-free bar by night.

Cheraso wants Verbena to be a community space for smaller events.

Verbena is set to open in June.

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