CLEVELAND (WJW) — Since Governor DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants to close last weekend, we have seen countless examples of support and generosity within the service industry.
In the Cleveland neighborhood of Tremont, a bounty of food was lined up Saturday on the bar and tables of Ushabu, a sleek regional Japanese restaurant where patrons once sat.
“We’re here at our free farmer’s market at Ushabu in Tremont at Ushabu as a way for us to give back to the restaurant industry and service members that are currently laid off,” explained executive chef and partner of Ushabu, Matthew Spinner.
He says what he is doing is not a charity, rather something earned.
“At a point in our career, every person in the service industry has made a choice to give more to the restaurant than the restaurant has given to them,” he said.
Spinner is working with several distributors and adhering to high standard health protocols while also protecting those who come to shop with specific time slots.
“We’ve used our reservation system in order to take reservations in 15-minute increments to make sure that we don’t have too many people in one small place at one time.”
You can direct message him through the restaurant’s Facebook page to reserve a time slot.
Spinner is emphasizing access to fresh produce and ingredients, so people can stay stocked and prepared for the long term.
“We need to be thinking about day 55, day 83, 97 and the only way that’s going to happen is if we can build up a supply in pantry’s and freezers,” he said.
When people come in, he shares his years of knowledge as a chef to suggest preservation methods that are easy to do at home.
Industry workers were also welcomed to the three Premier ProduceOne warehouses across the state to shop thousands of pounds of fresh ingredients.
“We just wanted to give back to our community. We’re not charging for anything,” said Co-owner Tony Anselmo.
He and his partners normally distribute to fine dining restaurants, universities, hospitals and more.
“There’s a lot of people that are out of work in our industry that can’t make any money,” he said.
Anselmo and staff members handed out bags and boxes of produce Saturday morning in the Cleveland snow flurries and chilly temperatures.
“We have a lot of lettuces, broccoli florets, red peppers, yellow, peppers, bok choy, romaine,” he said.
He says being able to give back in this way is yet another reminder that we are all in this together.
All of the leftover food from Premier ProduceOne is being donated to local shelters and food banks across the state.
Spinner says he will continue to hold his farmers market every Saturday as needed.