Eat Local Toledo initiative launchedWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rod Brant thinks nothing could be finer than dining in Toledo.
“Whenever you go to a location, whether it’s Toledo or Cincinnati, there’s a certain flavor or a certain flair that you get just from their local ambience,” Brant said. “I think that there’s definitely not only a local flavor to Toledo but lots of great places to eat, some on the expensive end and some on the low end.”
With his new initiative, Eat Local Toledo, he provides independent restaurateurs in the area a “unified method of conveying the value they offer,” he said. The initiative is a way to let patrons know which restaurants are independently owned and operated.
“Whenever I travel, I always want to eat at the local restaurants,” Brant said. “Even when I was traveling with my kid’s soccer team, I would go into a city like Cincinnati or Chicago, I’d always want to eat at a local restaurant because frankly, the chains are pretty boring and I really want to get a flavor of the community that I was in.”
Brant said the project benefits Toledo, ensuring money isn’t distributed on a national scale.
“I’m a big free market guy; I don’t think the government should regulate who can do what and buy what from where,” Brant said. “When you spend $100 at a local restaurant, about $70 is circulated back to the local economy. When you spend $100 at a chain restaurant, about $30 stays here. It really does a great service to the local community for us to spend our money locally with local independents. We have a ton of restaurants here that people may not know are locally owned.”
Ten restaurants are included in the project, including Sidelines, the sports eatery and pub. Eric Sitter, who owns Sidelines with two others, joined the group in response to chains having an advantage in marketing. He said Eat Local Toledo helps local families and the local economy. Eating at chains means profits go elsewhere.
Sidelines has four locations, most recently on Holland Road in Maumee. Others include two Toledo locations and one in Michigan.
Eat Local Toledo was formed less than three months ago after another local restaurant owner approached Brant. Together, they talked about national chains and came up with ideas to differentiate local eateries from them.
Members of Eat Local Toledo will work together on marketing that will include meal discounts. Each restaurant included will be given materials so customers will know about their connection with Eat Local Toledo.
Brant will also be distributing the “Little Black Book of Toledo,” a guide to local restaurants in the area. It will be given to local attractions and hotels for visitors and local residents.
Brant said any restaurant in the area can join his initiative. Visit eatlocaltoledo.com for more information. There are some requirements, including local ownership and owning fewer than six restaurants in the area.