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Feature Fri Jun 05 2009
A couple of months ago, I enjoyed one of the very best dining experiences of my life at City Provisions (check out the post), Chicago's green, locally-focused catering company and monthly supper club. At the dinner, I had the opportunity to speak with the owner/chef of the company, Cleetus Friedman, and he told me of his hopes to open an organic deli within the next five years. Little did he know that in just two months his plan to open a deli would be underway.
Last month, City Provisions was announced a winner of the Sustain Illinois Award for Sustainable Process. Sustain Illinois is a highly selective entrepreneurial competition meant to recognize and reward sustainable companies which not only benefit the business community, but the public health, welfare and environment through their best business practices. This honor was bestowed by the Chicago Community Ventures and carried a $10,000 cash prize to help further the business's sustainability goals.
City Provisions plans to use the prize money to realize a dream for Cleetus: "We plan to open a deli this summer where we will serve local meats, cheeses and other delicious foodstuffs. I have always wanted to offer my community a place that they can come to get delicious, wholesome, local fare and have a place where neighbors, families and soon-to-be familiar faces can have access to all the bounty our local farmers and businesses have to offer."
Cleetus plans on converting the event space at the Ravenswood location into the deli. "We are using a green-focused design firm, 2 Point Perspective, and plan to use reclaimed wood from Midwestern barns to stay close to our sustainability mission."
Sustainability isn't Cleetus' only mission; in opening a deli, one of his main goals is to "get involved with the community." He recognizes a need in Ravenswood and the conscious community for a place they can go to get sustainable foods deli-style. This project, however, is about more than a deli; Cleetus wants the business to serve as a fixture in the community, to give the local farmers a voice and for people to see it as a place where they can experience food and feel like they're a part of City Provisions and vice versa. "I want people to be able to come here and feel like this is a place where they belong."
To keep the deli focused on the community, Cleetus plans to shape the deli according to what the community wants. To start, the deli will offer: meat (steaks, beef, lamb, pork, chicken and sliced deli meat) and cheese from local farmers; crackers, breads and baked goods from Nicole's Divine Bake Shop and Bleeding Heart Bakery; made-from-scratch, organic canned goods (apple sauce, Bloody Mary mix, salsa, just to name a few) from City Provisions; beer, wine and distilleries from local companies; organic ice cream from Nice Cream; all-natural sodas and much more.
The deli will also offer seating inside as well as an outdoor patio where customers can enjoy seasonally prepared meals such as sandwiches, salads, dessert and coffee.
Additionally, kids will also be included in the City Provisions community. Beyond offering kid friendly meals Cleetus plans on organizing monthly events for families to enjoy, from visiting with the farmers and their animals to listening to stories and singing songs.
In just over a year, Cleetus has offered Ravenswood and the city of Chicago an outlet for sustainable foods and local farmers. I, along with many other Chicagoans, am so grateful to him for making local, organic foods more accessible and I will definitely be one of the first in line when the deli opens this summer.
Photos courtesy of Christina Noel