From the Editors: A Place At The Table
March 10, 2021
This issue, we're taking ourselves out for an anniversary dinner.
Make that 11 — one for each of the 10 years the Erie Reader has been in print (since 2011), with a much-deserved bonus for our most recent jubilee. Almost exactly a year ago, we published our last regular biweekly print edition before COVID-19 rudely slapped the serving platter out of our hands and left us picking up the pieces. The theme of that publication, ironically, was "The Food Issue," with "10 of Erie's Can't Miss Dishes'' as the main entree. The date that issue hit the stands — March 11, 2020 — was incidentally also the same day the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic.
Anyone in the restaurant industry could tell you about what it is to be knocked off balance — odd and unusual requests, finicky or belligerent customers, call-offs and no-shows, broken equipment, and missing ingredients — it's all just part of the business. But shutdown orders and empty dining rooms for months on end? For most, the effect has been seismic; for some, it's shattered their entire operations. Around 9,600 Erie County jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality sector by the time the Reader ran its next issue on May 20 of last year. Some of those jobs have since been recouped, but compared to other areas of the country, recovery has been — as they say on the barbecue circuit — low and slow.
It's 2021 now, and the thematic lazy Susan has spun all the way back around to "The Food Issue" — another multi-course meal of tasty features celebrating local fare, because supporting area restaurants not only feeds our bellies, but also a vital segment of our economy and our culture. Sit down to a home-cooked Italian feast with Liz Allen. Visit the most magnificent chocolate factory this side of Willy Wonka as Matt Swanseger checks in with perennial Best of Erie winner Romolo Chocolates, where confectionery is an art form. Meanwhile, Ben Speggen catches up with another noted culinary artist, Dan Kern, about his next venture after 1201 Kitchen (where the Erie Reader Launch Party was held, by the way, on March 28, 2011).
You'll have to wait a while for that to open (Labor Day-ish), but in the meantime, there are still myriad ways to support local — may we recommend the 11 "Can't Miss Dishes" we alluded to earlier? And no matter whether you're ready to resume dining in or would rather continue carrying out, be sure to propose a toast to the women in your life. Although March is when we officially observe Women's History Month, we all know that without them, there is no history. The Reader certainly wouldn't be what it is today without all the immensely talented females who have contributed their thoughts, words, artistry, expertise, and insights over the years.
Cheers to the significant impacts women make each and every day, in our homes, in their professions, and toward the betterment of everyone. And cheers to you for reading — it is because of you that we still have a place at the community table. We savor the opportunity to continue to serve you for years to come.