It’s time to takeout and speak up for local restaurants

Takeout 420
Here’s why local restaurants are essential to our community, and why ordering takeout is important, but not enough. Local restaurateurs also need your voice.

By Mitch Allen

One day last week I walked into one of my favorite Italian restaurants—Vaccaro’s Trattoria—in Bath, Ohio, to pick up a takeout order. The limited staff was practicing social distancing and wearing black masks that matched their black server attire. It was both elegant and surreal.

As I stepped aside to keep my distance and wait my turn, I looked over at the empty bar to my seat—that’s right, my seat—the corner spot where I always sit to enjoy owner Raphael Vaccaro’s authentic Italian entrées and his extensive Italian wine list.

I began to cry.

It was all I could do to hold myself together long enough to pay my bill and get back to my car. I never realized how much I rely on Vaccaro’s chefs, servers and bartenders not only for physical nourishment, but for social nourishment, for community, for companionship. I feel the same way about a half dozen other local establishments near my home. I know the owners and the employees—and they know me.

Right now, at almost all of our favorite restaurants, the dining rooms are dark, and a skeleton crew is prepping, preparing, boxing and bagging takeout orders in an effort to serve their community and survive. “I can’t make money like this,” they say, “but if I can at least cover enough costs to stay open, to hold on to some staff, to live to see another day, that’s all I can ask for.”

Signs of the times. Restaurants throughout Northeast Ohio have retooled their operations to offer takeout.

Why are local restaurants so important? Because whether it’s Medina Square or Downtown Willoughby, they literally define our communities. A prime example is New Orleans’ French Quarter. Imagine it without Brennan’s, K-Paul’s or Pat O’Briens, Cafe du Monde, Voodoo Authentica or Preservation Hall. Sans these one-of-kind businesses that reflect the district’s remarkable history and culture, the French Quarter would be just a bunch of old buildings. Replace them with Starbucks and Panera Bread, and you could hear the collective yawn from Houston.

If you are doing everything you can to support local restaurants—including ordering takeout and tipping well—thank you. Thank you so much. Would you like to know how else you can help? In addition to spending our money with local cafés, bistros and diners—and other locally owned businesses—one of the best things we can do to be supportive is to tell people about them.

If you have a local favorite, please tell everyone you know. Shout it from the rooftops. Leave detailed, five-star reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook or other review sites. And if you don’t have a local favorite, get curious. Look for one. Ask your friends. Break your routine. Sometimes when we’re in need we head straight to Olive Garden, Costco or Amazon out of habit or familiarity. Let’s expand our horizons.

In an effort to keep the doors open and continue to serve us, many local eateries are also offering delivery and/or curbside pickup.

And please be careful about leaving negative reviews. Frankly, I won’t do it. Just because I had a bad experience doesn’t mean someone else will. Maybe the staff had an off night, or maybe I just don’t get it and others will. There are plenty of local businesses I don’t patronize, yet their parking lots are packed (or, rather, were packed). We’re all different. And that’s not just okay, it’s the whole point. Our lives are enriched when we have greater choice.

Please give your favorite local businesses your time, your money, and your voice. Spread the word. I’ve been in the ad biz for my entire career, and I can tell you that the best form of advertising is and always will be word of mouth. And that is you. That is your superpower. No media company can offer it.

Right now, during the Covid-19 pandemic when most of us are under a stay-at-home order, we are unable to dine, shop or get a haircut from our favorite local spots. As much as I miss these fabulous businesses, as much as I hate what the pandemic is doing to our nation right now, I am hopeful that we will remember in the future that this—this right here—is how it will feel forever if they disappear.

Below, please find a list of some of Mimi’s favorite restaurants, which at press time were open and offering takeout dining services. We know the list is incomplete; there are hundreds more. So please, place a takeout order at your favorite eatery tonight, and please share your experience with others in the loudest voice you can.

People are listening.

Cleveland & Northeast Suburbs

Arabica Coffee House | Willoughby
Augie’s Pizza | South Russell
Ballantine | Willoughby
Billy’s A Capelli Martini Bar | Mentor
Bistro 70 | Painesville
Brown Barn Tavern | Chardon
Chagrin River Diner | Willoughby
Cibo | Chagrin Falls
Couchland Coffee House | Wickliffe
Edwins | Cleveland (Shaker Square)
Euclid Fish Co. | Mentor
Fiona’s Coffee | Willoughby
Great Harvest Bread | Mentor
J’s Pizza Market | Mentor
La Mexicana | Chesterland
Mama Roberto's | Mentor
Molinari’s | Mentor
Nora’s Public House | Willoughby
Nuevo Modern Mexican | Cleveland
Osso Farm Restaurant | Chardon
Pizza (216) | Cleveland
Sara’s Place | Gates Mills
Sol | Willoughby
The Wild Goose | Willoughby

Southeast & Akron

Basement Sports Bar & Grill | Akron
Beau’s Grille | Fairlawn
Blue Canyon Kitchen | Twinsburg
Bombay Grill | Fairlawn
Breads of Fairlawn | Fairlawn
Brewsters | Twinsburg
Cafe Arnone | Fairlawn
Chowder House Cafe | Cuyahoga Falls
City Barbeque | Fairlawn
Crave | Akron
D’Agnese’s at White Pond | Akron
D’Angelo’s Ristorante | Twinsburg
Dolphin Restaurant | Oakwood Village
Dos Coronas | Sagamore Hills
Edgar’s Restaurant | Akron
El Camino | Aurora
Gasoline Alley | Akron (Bath)
Gionino’s Pizzeria | Various Locations
Grandpa’s Cheesebarn | Norton
Green Diamond Grille & Pub | Barberton
House of Hunan | Fairlawn
Hudson’s Restaurant | Hudson
Leonardo’s Pizza | Fairlawn
Michael’s Catering & Cafe | Twinsburg
Miles Farmers Market | Solon
Mr. G’s Pizzeria & Wings | Fairlawn
Musketeers Bar & Grill | Richfield
Mustard Seed Market | Akron & Montrose
Nosh Catering | Hudson
Old Carolina Barbecue | Fairlawn & Stow
Olesia’s Taverne of Richfield | Richfield
Olive My Heart | Hudson
Papa Joe’s Iacomini’s | Akron
Paws | Aurora
Regina’s Pizza | Akron
Saffron Patch | Akron
Skyway Drive-In Restaurant | Fairlawn
Station 43 Tavern | Solon
Sushi Katsu | Akron
Vaccaro’s Trattoria | Akron (Bath)

Southwest & Medina

Amici’s Restaurant | North Royalton
Antonio’s Pizza | Various Locations
Augie’s Pizza | North Royalton
Barley Jack’s Pizza | Brunswick
Bianca’s Ristorante Italiano | Brunswick
Bistro on 130 | Middleburg Hts
Blue Heron Brewery | Medina
Brick Oven | Middleburg Hts
Candyapple Boutique | Medina
Casa Del Rio | Wadsworth
Circles on the Square | Medina
Corkscrew Saloon | Medina
Danny Boys Pizza | Broadview Hts
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit | Parma
Donut Land | Brunswick
Fat Bob Pizza | Brunswick
Fired Up Taco Shop | Strongsville
Galaxy Restaurant | Wadsworth
Gandalf’s Pub | Valley City
Gionino’s Pizzeria | Various Locations
Giovanni’s Pizzeria | Strongsville
Great Scott’s Bakery | Brunswick
House of Hunan | Medina
Jet’s Pizza | Parma
Johnny J’s | Medina & Strongsville
JoJo Carloni’s | Berea
Katherine’s Restaurant | Middleburg Hts
La Crepe Bakery & Cafe | Berea
Legends Sports Bar & Grille | Parma
Marie’s Cafe | Medina
Michaelangelo’s Winery | Broadview Hts
My Pizzetta | North Royalton
Niko’s Bar & Gyros | North Royalton
Nothing Bundt Cakes | Strongsville
Nuestra Casa Mexican | Rittman
Loder's Shake Shoppe | North Royalton
Oaks Lakeside | Chippewa Lake
Old Carolina Barbecue | Strongsville
Pizzeria Angie’s | North Royalton
Pomeroy House | Strongsville
Rito’s Italian Bakery | Brunswick
Riverstone Taverne | Brunswick
Rock Creek Kitchen | Middleburg Hts
Salted Dough | Broadview Hts
Shinto Japanese | Strongsville
Sidelines Bar & Grill | Brunswick
Tailgators Sports Pub | Wadsworth
Tavern On 42 | Parma Hts
The Berea Depot | Berea
The Coffee Colony | Medina
The Farm Stand | Norton
The Macaron Tea Room | Broadview Hts
3 Brothers Pizza | Middleburg Hts
Timber Lodge | Medina
Tommy’s Jerky Outlet | Middleburg Hts
Tommy’s Pizza | Strongsville
Twiisted Burgers & Sushi | Medina
Zupadi Indian | Strongsville

Northwest Suburbs

AJ’s Urban Grill | Westlake
Aces Depot | Olmsted Falls
Arturo’s Bar & Grill | North Olmsted
Avon Brewing Company | Avon
Bar Nova | Avon
Big M Pizza | Avon Lake
Danny Boys Pizza | Rocky River & North Olmsted
Distill Table | Lakewood
Gibb’s Butcher & Brews | Olmsted Falls
Greek Village Grille | Lakewood
Herb’s Tavern | Rocky River
Mashiso Asian Grille | North Olmsted
Matteo’s | Olmsted Falls
Nemo Grille | Avon
Niko’s Sandwich Board | Fairview Park
Nino’s Italian Restaurant | North Ridgeville
Old Carolina Barbecue | Rocky River
PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub | Cleveland (Westpark)
Roasted Coffee Shop | Olmsted Township
Veranda Bistro | Avon