Known for its gourmet sausages and decadent poutine, the staff of Banter put its talents to use by creating free community boxed lunches — think hot dogs made with gourmet sausage, fruit cups and bottles of water — for kids who are stuck at home without school-provided lunches. “We treated it like a brown-bag lunch,” says co-owner Matt Stipe. “We were concerned about kids that weren’t going to be in school, getting the food that they rely on every day.” Since mid-March the program has served nearly 700 and expanded to include meals for low-income families in the Gordon Square Arts District, offering lunches Mondays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. “There are people in need in every corner of this city,” says Stipe. “We’re just happy we can directly connect to our neighbors.”
Co-owners Natalie Bata and Keene Cockburn are giving back to the health care and senior living communities by crowdsourcing: For every 60 sandwiches they sell, they deliver 20 sandwiches to an ever-growing list of frontline workers and at-risk community members nominated by the restaurant’s customers. “It’s giving us a sense of purpose,” says Bata. “We’re not as crucial as frontline workers, but we feel like we’re able to do something at least during these weird times.” For every order placed, Bata encourages customers to nominate a frontline worker or elderly person in need. Since early May Cocky’s has delivered more than 2,000 sandwiches. “It gives them something to look forward to, even if it’s a little bite in the middle of the chaos,” says Bata.
For Dante Boccuzzi, a meal means gathering with family — and since March 22, he’s been focused on honoring laid-off restaurant workers and low-income families across Cleveland with hearty meals on-the-go. The idea started with supporting his own employees and other area industry workers, but then it bloomed from there to include anyone in need. Through a donation-based program, Boccuzzi and his team continue to distribute 800-1,000 meals each week — think baked chicken thighs and Mexican rice, or rigatoni and meatballs — handed out every Sunday right outside the restaurant’s Tremont doorstep. “It’s been amazing how people are donating money every week to keep it going,” he says. “People are stepping up and helping out.”
Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute provides education and opportunities to the formerly incarcerated, with hands-on classes and an online course library. As a result of COVID-19, founder, president and CEO Brandon Chrostowski has expanded those initiatives into the wider community, offering career counseling, the program’s cornerstone, to anyone in the hospitality and restaurant industry interested in building resumes, job-seeking or establishing connections. Since early May, 12 people have used this free online resource. “We spend time looking at what your strengths are and where your value is, and maybe pursue that specific pathway,” says Chrostowski. “We’re helping people make business plans if they choose to because now is a good time to dream.”
Saucy Brew Works
Co-founder and CEO Brent Zimmerman has generated a lot of ideas out of his West Side brewery. “We have all these great people that are working hard on the frontlines putting their lives at risk, saving people, helping people,” says Zimmerman. “Let’s do something for them.” By providing select six-packs of the brewery’s beer to health care and frontline workers and grocery store clerks, Zimmerman hoped to keep spirits high by offering the brews for a penny to meet the minimum state requirements. He also founded clevelandtips.com, a virtual platform where people can donate to laid-off restaurant workers across the Cleveland area. “We’ve had over 3,700 people sign up and we’ve had over 7,000 tips,” says Zimmerman.
food & drink
8:00 AM EST
May 28, 2020