New/Native: The Devil Strip Staff

Photo of Bronlynn Thurman by Shane Wynn; photo of Andrew Leask courtesy of Andrew Leask



Name: Andrew Leask
Age: 29
Occupation: Marketing Manager, United Way of Summit County
Hometown: Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Neighborhood: Highland Square


What do you wish was on more Akronites radar?
I grew up in Puerto Rico. Although my wife and I usually visit the island during the holidays, what I miss most between visits (besides my family) is the cuisine. Alas, there’s nowhere in Akron to get Puerto Rican food—which, by the way, is nothing like Mexican food. Until that changes, I may have to resign myself to only getting my mofongo fix once a year.


What is your favorite local cultural asset?
Two come immediately to mind, and fortunately, they’re within a block of each other: the Nightlight Cinema and Blu Jazz+. They’re wonderful, intimate venues that provide entertainment that’s hard to find elsewhere. Every city, not just Akron, could use those.


When did you fall for Akron?
I started writing for the Devil Strip last October. Since then, I’ve met with and spoken to a lot of people who are devoted to making this city a great place to live in. After getting to see Akron through their eyes, it wasn’t long before I started to fall for the place myself.


Where in Akron do you like to escape?
It’s not a specific place, but in the past year, I’ve gotten into taking long walks. It gives me an opportunity to think, listen to music or an audiobook, and get some exercise all at the same time. On most days, this means walking down Market Street from my apartment in Highland Square. I’m sure it doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it gives me the opportunity to be inside my own head for a while, which I find very useful as a writer.


Why should everyone try your favorite local restaurant?
I can’t bring myself to pick just one favorite restaurant, but I’ll gladly list some of my favorite things I’ve eaten in Akron since I moved here. There’s the salted caramel macarons at Sweet Mary’s Bakery. I usually roll my eyes at food fads, but those macarons turned me into a salted caramel believer. I love the massaman curry at Cilantro. It’s my favorite Thai curry dish, and Cilantro makes it differently—thicker and richer—than other places I’ve had it. And I love the carrot cake they sell at the Mustard Seed Market. I live just across the street from the Highland Square location, and my struggle to keep from eating it every day is very real.

Maybe it’s a cop out not to name one restaurant, but that’s part of what I’ve grown to love about Akron. There’s a lot of people—artists and businesses alike—that are working to find their own niche, and the excitement of being new to Akron comes from seeing how they are succeeding.

Name: Bronlynn Thurman
Age: 26
Occupation: Program Associate for Knight Foundation and Contracted Program Assistant for GAR Foundation
Hometown: Ak-rowdy
Neighborhood: Downtown


What do you wish was more on Akronites’ radar?
Our art scene is growing and thriving. I wish Akronites outside of Downtown, West Akron, and Highland Square were more aware of it.


What is your favorite local cultural asset?
The Metro Parks. Hands down.


When did you fall for Akron?
It was the Spring of 2014. I had just moved back to Akron after living in Virginia for a year and Kent for more than 4 years. I believe that it was my first time visiting Highland Square (I know, I know) and the creativity, the art, the likeminded individuals just blew me away.


Where in Akron do you like to escape?
The Nervous Dog on West Market is my go-to spot when I want some quiet time.


Why should everyone try your favorite local restaurant?
The Blue Door in Cuyahoga Falls is a gem. It uses local, farm-fresh ingredients, its menu is always new, creative and delicious, and it stays away from corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, etc.