Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Debt of Gratitude

Photo courtesy This Is Cleveland
This was the headline and subhead of a recent piece posted on "Restaurants Really Can Determine the Fate of Cities and Neighborhoods — A new survey shows how much food influences the vibrance of urban centers." We've experienced this firsthand in Cleveland. Just think about what's happened over the past few years in Ohio City, Tremont, Gordon Square, Flats East Bank, East Fourth Street, and Shaker Square and Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. And I think it would be appropriate to offer a loud, energetic communal thanks to all the visionary chefs, entrepreneurs and investors who made commitments to these areas that helped bring about their revival and resurgence.

Turns out, this is just the right moment to show appreciation. Cleveland Independents, an association of locally owned and operated non-chain, non-franchise restaurants — the true drivers of the culinary renaissance that has brought so much energy to both our food scene and and our communities — is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Now 90 members strong and spanning a geography that goes from Sandusky to Mentor and Canton, the organization sponsors year round efforts to get people's attention. There's Restaurant Week, the deck of discount cards for food purchases, and gift cards redeemable at any member restaurant. Promotions such as these are good for business and good for the neighborhood.

Almost half of those urban residents questioned for the above mentioned study revealed that new restaurants are a top reason for exploring different parts of their city. A whopping 82 percent included restaurants among the main things they appreciate about where they live and a majority cited food and restaurants when talking about the cities they love to visit. These numbers confirm what we've been learning here ever since Carl Quagliata brought dining to the Warehouse District and Michael Symon made it trendy to go to Professor Street to eat.

Cleveland's on the upswing and I believe a large portion of credit should go to our culinary community. A round of social media applause would be nice. Showing support by going out to their restaurants — even better.

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