Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe’s Woodmere location, founded by Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman in Cleveland Heights, has a new owner in John Cerne, starting Oct. 1. He purchased shares within the Stone Oven brand, which includes everything associated with the Woodmere location.
With plans to keep it as a Stone Oven entity, Cerne said he’s been enjoying learning and understanding what the founders have built since 1995.
“It’s been pretty great,” he said. “So far, so good.”
Coming from a hospitality management background, Cerne first worked in the hotel and restaurant industry and later moved to the corporate world. The purchase of the Stone Oven shares allows him to get back to what he loves, he added.
“My degree is in hospitality management from The Ohio State University,” he said. “I did corporate work in advertising and sales for a while, but I decided I wanted to get back to what I loved to do, which is more this type of work. I felt like I ran up the ranks and went as far as I could in the corporate world. I decided to do this for myself.”
Cerne’s business partner Ravi Dodeja found his motivation for coffee shops and cafes while in college too, but through a different journey.
“When I was in college, I spent a lot of time studying in coffee shops,” he said. “I’d be sitting there in between classes and wishing I could run the place I was sitting in about half the time. It was always kind of a dream. So, when this opportunity arose, one thing led to another. We just decided to go for it.”
Alongside Dodeja, Cerne said he’s most excited to make people happy.
“I think food does that,” he said. “The food we serve is fresh and all made daily from the soup, to the salad and down to the sandwich bread. That’s what people want these days. They don’t want food heated up and served to them. That’s what Stone Oven is about – you get fresh food made to order. People look forward to that and really require it these days. So, I’m excited about that.”
The restaurant’s hours and menu will remain the same.
Another thing Cerne is looking forward to is getting back to his roots and interacting with his community in a new way. Cerne has lived in Cleveland Heights his entire life and his father worked as a firefighter.
“I’m excited to get to know the area, too,” he said. “I grew up in Cleveland Heights and my kids did too. I’ve been born and bred here. A lot of the people we know are regulars around here. I’m excited to re-engage with them and looking forward to servicing them from catering down to everyday service.”
As for the future of the Woodmere location, Cerne is looking forward to trying new things.
“We’re allowed to kind of experiment with sandwiches and salads, so I want to be able to offer some specials and different variety,” he said. “Also, a lot of the processes done here are a bit different than what is done at the Cleveland Heights location, so it’s conforming to what they do there with what we’re doing here.”
A Solon resident, Dodeja is excited to immerse himself in a new community.
“Stone Oven has very strong brand recognition and image,” he said. “It’s been part of the community for a long time,” he said. “So, I’m looking forward to being part of the community, serving them and giving them the best customer experience we can. We want to be a go-to in the community and do what’s best for them.
Emerman, co-owner of the original Cleveland Heights location, confirmed Cerne has full ownership of the Woodmere location, but is excited to continue to work closely with the business.
“We’re very much related as we supply them with pastry, soups and food,” he said. “We work very closely together, so they’re still considered part of our business in that sense. We’re excited to get some new energy into (the Woodmere) store.”
Speaking of pastry, Cerne has plans to grow the bakery’s pastry offerings under his leadership.
“Right now, from a pastry standpoint, we’re doing what is required,” he said. “But there is a lot of creativity around morning pastries and coffees. We’re going to hone in on those and make them better. I want to give people more options I think they will like and appreciate.”
Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe is at Eton Chagrin Boulevard, 28601 Chagrin Blvd. The Cleveland Heights location is at 2267 Lee Road.