CLEVELAND — Fat Tuesday is upon us and while the real celebration is happening down south in Louisiana, a restaurant in the middle of Downtown Cleveland is bringing the South and the heat to Northeast Ohio.
House of Creole at 668 Euclid Ave. is Jeffery Miskiri’s 7th restaurant, but it’s the first one outside of the Washington D.C. area.
“Cleveland is definitely an up and coming food scene,” he said.
And while he hails from the D.C. area, his roots are Southern.
“My grandfather’s side of the family— they’re from New Orleans. They’re from the South, so the Cajun, Creole cooking cuisine has always been embedded in me,” he said.
Cajun cuisine is what he believed Cleveland needed.
“Cajun, Creole food being one of the top cooking cuisines in the world and not having that much in the Cleveland, Ohio region was definitely a huge green flag for me, you know, to jump out there and open this up,” he said.
His general manager, Roger Gairy, said people of Cleveland have taken to House of Creole.
“In the middle of Downtown Cleveland, a lot of people come and say ‘I wasn’t expecting this,’” said Gairy. “We have a lot of people from Louisiana; they always like our food and they say, ‘I haven’t had this since I left home.’”
The kitchen, run by head chef Jillian Stewart, offers traditional New Orlean’s dishes like seafood etoufee, Cajun shrimp and grits and jambalaya.
On Fat Tuesday, the restaurant will host an all day celebration with Mardi Gras drinks, dishes, beaded necklaces and more.
House of Creole is also celebrating its one year anniversary. It was one of 196 new restaurants to open up in Cuyahoga County in 2022.
“Cuyahoga County was the county that had the most growth numbers of restaurants across the state,” said John Barker.
Barker is the president of the Ohio Restaurants Association. He said while the number of restaurants continue to grow, restaurants are still dealing with pandemic problems like labor shortages.
“They're still down about 10 to 20%, meaning that if I needed 50 people to run my restaurant, to have it run the way I wanted to run in a matter of hours, I want to operate number of days, I still need another 10 to 20% of people to come to work and it's hard to find them because so many, you know, so many businesses are shorthanded right now,” said Barker.
House of Creole is no different.
“We did what we have had to do to survive. Thank God we’ve gotten through the storm and things are starting to look up and get brighter but we are still trying to find staff, so if anybody is interested looking for serving, we need servers, we need cooks, we need bartenders,” said Gairy.
Barker said restaurants are also struggling with costs of food. Miskiri said it is something he is constantly dealing with but works with vendors to make sure customers get what they came for at House of Creole.
“We are constantly working with the vendors and making sure we have the items to give to the customers,” he said. “We still have issues with shipments being delayed so on and so forth and we offer such a wide selection of items that we are able to carry at least 95% of our menu majority of the time.”
According to Ohio Restaurant Association— despite labor shortages and inflation— restaurant sales are up because people are still coming out to dine in.
Miskiri is planning many more Mardi Gras celebrations and anniversaries to come, as House of Creole solidifies its spot in Cleveland, one Cajun dish at a time.
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