1,000 Year Ban: "Cleveland Anything"
We appreciate this newfound flush of civic pride, we really do – it boosts our collective self-esteem better than a bottomless bottle of Ecstasy. But while it's heart-warming to observe so many old, new and boomeranged residents wearing their hearts on their 100-percent Cleveland sleeves, it's growing monotonous to read about yet another Cleveland-branded food startup. We love your bagels, tea, whiskey, beer, sauerkraut - just come up with a more original name.
BUY: The 'Any' Taproom
The saying "stick with what you know" is simple yet profound, and when applied to the hospitality industry, pure gold. Brewers make beer. Chefs cook food. Owners and managers run restaurants. That's why we love the genuine taproom – it's all about the beer: brewed here, poured here, enjoyed here. Leave the cooking to somebody else.
HOLD: "Food & Drink"
One has to admit, "Food & Drink" does have a nice modest, uncomplicated, almost elegant ring to it when used in a restaurant name. That's probably why so many owners before you have gone with it. F&D is the new "Grille," edging out the more recent "Kitchen" and ever-timeless "Bistro" in terms of ubiquity.
SELL: Plastic Tableware in a Restaurant
We get it; you're a casual sort of joint. NO CLOTH NAPKINS AND TUXEDOES HERE. But what those adorable wax paper-lined plastic baskets and little plastic ramekins of special sauce really say about you is that you're too cheap to hire a dishwasher and that you hate Mother Earth. If we wanted to eat our food from petrochemical-laden polymers, we would have ordered it to go. Or gone to White Castle.
HOLD: Boozy Milkshakes
Yes, something magical happens when you take one awesome thing – MILKSHAKE! – and combine it with another awesome thing – BOOZE! But like all great things, there is a point at which a diner shrugs his or her shoulders and says, "Meh, just had one yesterday." That point is now.
Up north, Poutine is just as popular as french fries are down here. Well, technically they are french fries – french fries ladled with beef gravy and topped with fresh cheese curds and all matter of other add-ons. It literally is one of the best foods a (drunk) person can eat. In fact, there are entire chains built around selling just poutine. Here's hoping the new Banter's version will be the bomb.
BUY: Cleveland-style BBQ
No pressure, Mike Symon. None at all. Just undo decades of complacency and misdirection as it applies to the local barbecue scene with the simple turn of a key when Mabel's BBQ opens downtown. Hopefully it will be start of a Cleveland barbecue revolution, one that trades in squishy boiled ribs and sickly sweet sauce for high-quality, locally inspired, smoked-meat comfort food.
BUY: BUTCHER SHOPS
Farmers Markets are great tools to connect home cooks with sustainable foods. But even with a multitude of them operating throughout town, they still are wildly inconvenient given that they often are open just one day per week. Modern butcher shops that sell pasture-raised, free-range, hormone and antibiotic free meats are becoming more common by the year – and that's great news.
BUY: Cold-Pressed Juice Bars
It might seem like there's been a tidal wave of hipster-approved juice bars recently, but until there is one on my block, this is an absolute "buy." If there is a better way to cram an entire day's worth of nutritional goodness into a single, chuggable serving, I have yet to find it. I don't care if that beet-apple-guava-kale-rutabaga-cayenne-unicorn's tears bevvie tastes like crap as long as it detoxes my liver.