CLEVELAND, Ohio — There's been a lot of construction on East 185th Street, and while major investments are being made to position it as Cleveland's next popular neighborhood, a restaurant at the heart of it all stands as a testament to the street's past, and anchor for its future.
Scotti’s Italian Eatery is where food, reasonable prices and warmth have kept customers coming back for 24 years.
“I would like them to feel like they know us and they're comfortable here,” said owner Scott Nathanson. “It's kind of like they're my family. I take care of these people for 20 years. You get to know them, their lives, ups and downs."
Nathanson opened his restaurant more than two decades ago as a backup plan.
“I was a musician for a long time, and the musician thing kind of died out, and I needed something to fall back on,” said Nathanson.
Little did he know it would turn into a staple — one that would face some challenges.
“Last year, they tore up the street to fix the infrastructure under the street, which kind of killed us,” said Nathanson.
That was on top of the pandemic when many businesses struggled. Scotti's almost closed. But customers wouldn't let it.
“It’s like people walk in, and I know who they are and what they are going to order,” said Nathanson.
And their orders are memorized.
“The neighborhood saved us — all these people in the neighborhood. If we were in a location where we didn't have a neighborhood, we wouldn't have been able to survive,” said Nathanson.
In the heart of East 185th street is a brick building that's there to stay.
“You operate your business to take care of those people, and at the same time you're always looking for new people to come in from other neighborhoods,” said Nathanson. He hopes that once the projects are done, more customers who become new regulars with memorized orders will follow.