High quality comes with a high price, as the cost of sustainability closed a Ravenswood business.
Cleetus Friedman opened City Provisions Delicatessen, at 1818 W. Wilson Ave., in 2010. The eatery offered house-cured meats, brunch and sandwiches—focusing on organic and sustainable food.
Friedman closed the delicatessen suddenly on Monday after sending a farewell email to his customers.
The chef applauded the community’s support, but said the Ravenswood location didn’t produce enough foot traffic. And while he tried to stick to his mission, too many challenges surfaced in keeping products sustainable.
“I could have bought different milk. Different eggs. I could have used non eco-friendly parchment paper. I could sent everything to landfill,” he said in the email. “I could have used an inferior product. I could have had a Sysco truck deliver my food and have one person work a deep fryer and microwave. I consciously chose to do things one way.”
Friedman said he put the same level of ingredients and labor into sandwiches that many of his colleagues were putting into a $25 entrée.
“Perhaps we, as a community, are not prepared to take on the challenge of a $15 - $20 lunch ticket…” he wrote.
Despite closing the City Provisions, Friedman said he’s not done with the local food movement. The chef told Eater Chicago he's already researching another restaurant. Located elsewhere in the city, the place will run along the same sustainability and farm dinner concept.
Or, Friedman could turn to TV.
Earlier this month, Alpana Singh, the host of popular food TV show "Check, Please!," announced she was leaving after 10 years. The audtition process opens Wednesday and Friedman has already put his name on the list.
Grub Street Chicago speculated the Friedman’s pricing ultimately led to its downfall, but still praised his efforts.
“Eating a $15 sandwich like he offered is stepping out of the industrial food system and paying real farmers and suppliers a fair price— but unfortunately they are competing against those who operate by an entirely different set of economic rules…the loss of his retail space for doing so is a blow to the city— and a vision of feeding it better provisions,” Michael Gebert wrote.
Interview requests with Friedman were not immediately returned.