posted on by Jackie Bebenroth

The one-year wrap up

We’re turning the corner on our one-year restaurant anniversary! To say it’s been a wild ride is an understatement. Spice Kitchen + Bar launched with energy, excitement and optimism (and, quite honestly, a bit of trepidation), and we watched it grow like proud parents seeing their baby take her first step. And then sprawl all over the floor a time or two….then shake it off and hop right back up again.

Now we’re running full speed, but not without help! Here are the twelve things we’ve been most grateful for in 2012 – our very first year as restauranteurs.

12. The Deerbuster’s fence.
Until this year, Spice Acres suburbia has been a veritable salad bowl for the freeloading deer population. We called Deerbusters after numerous failed attempts to save $1,000s in lost produce. Now, a massive 7ft. fence protects the leafy greens so that they can grow and flourish for tomorrow’s menu.

Spice Acres Circa 2011: A Deer Feast

Spice Acres circa 2012: Take that, Deer.

11. Chickens + Eggs
After exploring some dead-end chicken coop options via Craigslist, Chef Ben Bebenroth built one from scratch using the wood from the old restaurant patio fence. Now, nine hens produce 5-8 eggs a day and sneak under the Deerbusters fence to explore suburbia in their free time. Look for a special Spice Acres egg on the 2013 menus.

Renegade chicken on the loose in suburbia.

10. A very handy boss.
When you open a restaurant on a shoestring budget, resourcefulness is key. Our catering truck runs on fryer oil from the kitchen, saving us hundreds of dollars on diesel fuel each month. In theory. It runs, well, most of the time. On those off days, our chef must trade his knife kit in for his tool box to get our truck back on the refried road.

He might be smiling but he’s cussing on the inside.

9. Fun, festive times.
New Years Eve Prix Fixe Night. Dyngus Day Polka. Our annual Smashing Pumpkins Party (literally, not musically). Spice Lunch with Santa.  We’ve had a blast hosting memorable events that help make the CLE a great place to be.

Putting our tomato cages to work in the off season.

 8. A totally awesome neighborhood.
Speaking of “places to be,” let’s talk about Detroit Shoreway + Gordon Square Arts District. We feel so fortunate to have such supportive biz neighbors and community leadership. Next time you’re in town, make a night of it! We hope you’ll include us in your plans for dinner and a movie, pre-theatre cocktails or tapas hop.

 7. A city of local food.
This year was Sustainable Cleveland 2019‘s Year of Local Food, which happily coincided with the West Side Market‘s 100 year anniversary. The perfect storm of culinary greatness. Ten years ago, standing alongside a handful of farmers market vendors at the chef demo stand in Shaker Square, we would have never imagined local foods would become such a huge force in this region. We’re proud to be part of it.

Our first year of oh-so-local dinner specials!

6. The awards circuit.
We were honored with a few fantastic accolades this year, including Cleveland’s Best Caterer (Scene Magazine) and Cleveland’s Best Restaurant Garden (Cleveland Magazine).  We’ll work hard to continue to earn your vote for 2013 awards (Best New Restaurant, anyone?) with an intense commitment to serving up an incredible dining experience every time.

5. An urban hoophouse.
Thanks to Gardening for Greenbacks, a little grant from the city, we built a large, rainwater-catching hoop house from Tunnel Vision Hoops behind our parking lot. In doing so, we’ve extended our season by at least three months so keep everything growin’ while it’s snowin’. If you’re curious about what’s coming up this time of year, just ask your server for a tour before dinner.

Chef Ben took the kids for a hoop house tour on Lunch with Santa day.

4. Trusty investors
Here’s a little secret. Unlike most restauaraunts in town, Spice is not bank funded.  Instead, we have a handful of private investors who believe in the importance of buying local and building our economy at a grassroots level. Thank you, investors.

3. Ego-stroking reviews
This year’s positive reviews and feature stories really put some wind in our sails when the going got tough. And aside from a couple of cranky Yelpers and a woman named “PickyEater” on Urban Spoon, we were pretty pleased with the feedback from guests and bloggers alike.

We love this line, penned by Mr. Trattner.

2. The best staff in town
Our people rock. That is all.

Rachel, Ben + Jeanna rocking out.

Burning the midnight oil.

The lovely ladies of Spice.

1. Your good taste.
Thanks to your patronage, we’ve been able to pour over a quarter million dollars back into the marketplace in and around Cleveland – building our culinary ecosystem and our regional economy. When you choose to bring your money to Spice, or many of the other independently owned restaurants in this town, you truly make a difference in creating a vibrant community that benefits all of us.

Cheers to a bright and prosperous 2013!

Posted in: Spice Acres, Spice Kitchen+Bar, Spice of Life Catering Co..
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3 Responses to The one-year wrap up

  1. Alice Claus says:

    Love to read all these good things! Some of our best meals of 2012 were at Spice, and we look forward to the coming year!

  2. Melyssa & Matt says:

    Thank you for beautifully catering our July 7 wedding and for a fantastic date night dinner in December. You guys are truly our favorite and we look forward to anniversary dinners at Spice! Best wishes for the future. P.S. We grew up in Broadview Hts. and think your suburban garden is the bees knees!

  3. Johnc745 says:

    Your goal is to breed all the different dragons eddfdddfdbcc