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Cleveland’s Plum unites regional restaurants for mental health benefit

September 13, 2018

Cleveland’s Plum unites regional restaurants for mental health benefit

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland’s The Plum has been branching out. Over the last year, it’s collaborated with restaurants throughout the region for special events. With summer coming to a close, chef Brett Oliver Sawyer saw no better way to toast to the season than throwing one big cook-out with some of his favorite fellow chefs.

What’s more, a portion of the proceeds benefiting a good cause – Greater Cleveland’s chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization.

This Sunday, Sept. 30, Plummertime Good Vibes cook-out unites more than a dozen restaurants from four cities at the Plum at 4133 Lorain Ave. The $120 tickets, available online, include all food and beverages.

The event originally started as a partnership with Shacksbury Cider and Platform Beer Co. when they decided to see if they could get more chefs involved.

“We figured we could get a bunch of grills, get a bunch of chefs together and have it be very casual and very laid back,” Sawyer says. “Everyone kept saying yes. We thought if we had all these people coming in, we should do this for a good cause.”

Alongside the Plum, Shacksbury and Platform, the Plummertime event features chefs from restaurants like Pittsburgh’s Cure, The Vandal and Morcilla; Detroit’s Gold Cash Gold; Ferndale, MI’s Voyager and Columbus’ Watershed Kitchen and Bar. Cleveland restaurants represented include Larder, The Black Pig, Ohio City Provisions, Ushabu and Momocho, along with more brewery and beverage vendors.

Few local restaurants have been as outspoken about mental health and addiction, topics that resonate strongly in the culinary world, as the Plum. After the passing of Anthony Bourdain by suicide, the conversation only grew, and the Plum’s crew wasn’t quiet about the need to shift the culture of the service industry. Sawyer and Plum part-owner Ritesh Singh weighed in on our June 2018 story on how Cleveland’s culinary world is changing the conversation.

Soon after reading it, NAMI Greater Cleveland chapter reached out to the restaurant.

“The article on mental illness and addiction in the service industry was really moving,” says Lisa Dellafiora, NAMI GC Development and Special Events Coordinator. “The openness of those interviewed was inspiring. It is a big step for some people to go public in talking about their experience with mental illness and addiction. My next thought was, do they know about NAMI and is there anything we can do to help provide support? We reached out to one of the owners, Jonah Oryszak, and asked, ‘What happens next?’”

The Plum was already in the planning stages of putting together the event, so the partnership fell together at just the right time, Sawyer says. The restaurant is also participating in the annual NAMI Walk on Sept. 15. 

“We really want to try to get involved as much as we can,” Sawyer says. “It’s something very near and dear to our hearts, ending of the stigma of mental illness and addiction, and the stigma of seeking help. Anything we can do to further that agenda, not only do we want to support organizations that do that, but as a business, we support our employees and the community in that way as much as we can.”

Sawyer says he looks forward to building that relationship well beyond the summer event. 

“It’s good that people are starting to realize that talking about mental health and addiction isn’t going to be beneficial just to them, but to their families and communities,” Sawyer says. “We’re in this together, everybody, and we have to prop each other up.”

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