CLEVELAND, Ohio — Vice President Joe Biden followed his well-known sweet tooth to Little Italy on Wednesday after speaking at the RTA’s rail shop on the need for investment in infrastructure.
He said he planned to talk with business and community leaders about the impact of the renovation of the Cedar-University and Little Italy-University Circle rapid transit stations. But the meeting place, Presti’s Bakery on Mayfield Road, iced the cake with an opportunity for some retail politics.
Biden arrived at the cafe around 3:45 p.m., via Coltman Road, in a motorcycle-escorted motorcade of about a dozen vehicles.
He greeted the afternoon crowd that was swelled by neighborhood residents who pursued the caravan, and worked his way around the room past the counter to a corner table to meet with business and community leaders.
He kissed Millie Morgan, who grew up in the neighborhood, and told her niece, Carmeline Mangano Worley, that her smile would light up the room. He posed for pictures, patted backs and shook hands.
“If you’re not supposed to be here, you’re in trouble now,” he told Dan Brennan, president of the Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation, as cameras clicked around them.
Biden ordered tiramisu, cannoli and coffee before getting to business with Brennan; Steve Standley, chief administrative officer of University Hospitals; Jill Snyder, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and architect and local resident Steve Bucchieri.
“Tell me about what’s going on,” he said. “Economic growth — is this new rail station having an impact on it?”
“This is huge,” Standley said.
He said initiatives that started with the Euclid Corridor project, spearheaded by UH, the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University, had led to new housing, retail and commercial development in the area.
In his visits to other parts of the country, he said, “They’re talking about the Cleveland model now.”