April 1, 2020

Dear friends,
In an interview last week, restaurateur and TV personality David Chang said he fears most independent restaurants will fail in the coming months without a government bail out. He thinks only chain restaurants will survive the coronavirus quarantine, permanently changing the face of dining in America.

I am afraid he is right. Not only will restaurant owners lose income and rack up debts (utilities, loan payments, taxes, rent), but their employees will vanish. Cooks, dishwashers, bartenders and servers cannot just tread water until the quarantine is lifted. Most will have to find other ways to carve out a living, and many will not return to their restaurant jobs — if those jobs even exist — after the coronavirus situation is resolved.

The problem is too immense for us to tackle in its entirety. But maybe we can save our own little corner of the restaurant world by eating restaurant carry out and tipping generously — ridiculously generously — as much as our finances will allow.

During this time, I implore you to avoid the Taco Bells and Appleby’s in favor of Rockne’s and Mr. G’s. Skip BJ’s Brewhouse, and instead order takeout from Sushi Katsu or Continental Cuisine.

And the smaller the restaurant, the more it needs your support. Some have closed temporarily, but other are trying to remain open. To help them do that, let’s share the names of the restaurants we visit each week and the meals we have ordered. Maybe we can tempt each other into ordering out more often.

I know this works, because I probably wouldn’t have ordered dinner from Vaccaro’s in Bath last week if owner Gabriel Vaccaro hadn’t posted his weekly menu options on Facebook. And I know my friend Betsy wouldn’t have ordered the Friday fish special from Chowder House in Cuyahoga Falls if I hadn’t reposted chef Louis Prpich’s menu.

Every week, I’ll post in my newsletter as many of your emails about restaurants as possible. Here’s the first batch:

From Marlene H.:
We did Vaccaro’s Trattoria (in Bath) delivery service. The delivery was on time and the entree was still piping hot. They offer three menu choices and change the choices each week. We ordered the Chianti-braised beef tips with homemade gnocchi, garlic lemon broccoli, and salad. The dinners are billed as dinner for 4 for $40, but we actually had 6 dinners. There was a lot of food for us and it was so delish!! Looking forward to seeing what the choices are for the coming week.

From Kate S.:
We look forward to your weekly email. Thanks for encouraging your readers to order takeout from our local restaurants. Our go-to is D’Agnese’s On White Pond in Akron. Veal Marsala, chicken piccata and hearty soups. Consistent high-quality food.

From Deb C.:
Take a drive to the Honeymoon Grille in Coventry/Portage Lakes. They have a drive-through window and car hop service. I’m partial to their chef salad. My son got a half-pound burger and onion rings. Just pull into the lot and turn on your lights. They are at the intersection of Portage Lakes Drive and Manchester Road.

On Swenson’s Facebook page they have been featuring Northeast Ohio restaurants that are still serving.

Also, the BK Rootbeer stand on Monroe Falls Avenue between Bailey and Portage Trail will be opened on Saturday. They have great homemade Coney sauce.

Be well. Be safe. Wear your seatbelt. Wash your hands.

From Noreen:
I think it’s interesting how some restaurants are getting creative. My hometown Foster’s Tavern in Hinckley has carryout, and we enjoyed their fish fry last Friday. They post daily carryout menus. They also have an online contest showing pictures of families eating their pizza.

I’m hoping to get fish tacos at Kavana’s Social Kitchen in North Royalton this week. They also have an online contest and they’re giving away $50 gift certificates for 50 days. An order is an entry. Their fish tacos have bits of apple in them — so good!

Another on my wish list is Michael Angelo’s Winery in Richfield. They post a weekly menu and for $40, you get a lovely multi-course dinner for 4 to 6. I can’t wait to try it, but they often sell out.

From Charlene:
If you are mentioning local restaurants trying to stay alive, don’t forget Sammie’s in Tallmadge and, of course, Menches Bros. in Green. Both are relying heavily on younger family members to keep things going.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Microwave mug gingerbread; microwave mug chocolate cheesecake; frozen eggplant lasagne (from last summer); venison paprikas over noodles; homemade fettuccine for Vaccaro’s pasta sauces; lemon ricotta custard; miso mushroom chili; smoked sausage dogs with miso mushroom chili, baked potatoes with sour cream; egg salad sandwiches with Major Grey’s chutney; omelet filled with miso mushroom chili, buttered toast; sausage and canned spicy baked beans.


What I ate from restaurants:
Bacon, egg and cheese flatbread and cappuccino from Cafe Arnone drive-through in Fairlawn; quarts of wedding soup, pasta e fagioli, pomodoro sauce and Bolognese sauce from Vaccaro’s Trattoria in Bath.

THE MAILBAG
From Marti W.:
I am writing to you to see if you know what happened to Sumner’s Butter. I have not been able to find it in the stores. We love that butter. Anything about it would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Marti:
I really tried, but I can’t help you. I found the Facebook page for Sumner’s Creamery Butter but the last post was in 2014. I phoned Tasty Pure Foods, the Akron company that makes the butter, but no one answered. I researched the company in the Beacon Journal digital archives but could find no mention of anything amiss. Maybe someone else knows why you can’t find the butter in your local store. Help!

From Monica, Hudson:
My new year’s resolution was to add more plant-based eating to my diet. I don’t eat loads of meat but cheese is my weakness and I probably eat more cheese than meat!
Anyway, I’m starting slow by doing one plant-based day a week. This week I made Chana Masala and Coconut Rice from Ella Mills’ Natural Feasts. The recipe is easy to find online. It was delicious and easy, with lots of spices for great flavor. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, there are a million plant-based cookbooks and recipes online but so many are just OK when I make them. I wonder if you or any of your readers have favorite tried and true recipes they like. I would love to try some really good tested recipes!

Dear Monica:
Your request is now out in the universe — or at least our little universe — and I hope a ton of recipes are on the way. I will print or forward all that I receive.

From Sue B.:
I’ve never been much of a cook but always enjoy reading your blog and the things your subscribers share. Last week’s edition made me say “wow.” The foods that all of you are preparing sound incredible. How lucky many of us are to have the resources allowing us to prepare more than basic foods.

This is a time of reflection for most people and I’ve been thinking about my parents a bit. They were married shortly after the onset of great depression of the 1930s. In the last year of his life, when he was quite ill, I casually asked Dad what was the best meal he ever had. “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “During the depression we didn’t have much food or money. We searched the couch crevices and came up with a few coins, enough to buy some sausage for sausage gravy on the potatoes we had.” Best meal ever! Then too, I remember Mom telling me when my brother was a toddler she sometimes had to feed him bread spread with lard.

Thank you for reminding us to support the food service industry and the employees. Please allow me to express thanks to the area food banks. Fortunately these organizations have been up and running in our community for some time and are needed now more than ever. I hope all of us who are so blessed will donate even more generously to the effort to feed those with very little.

Keep your blog coming Jane. You are needed more than ever.

Dear Sue:
Thank you for reminding us to be grateful. Most of us are lucky to be weathering the isolation with full stomachs. Let’s share what we can.

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