BEREA, Ohio — In 2021, the Cleveland Browns launched a program called Cleveland Huddle, which focuses on supporting Black-owned restaurants while helping local communities in need. The team connects with local Black-owned restaurants and orders dozens of meals from them, prepared fresh to be delivered to local shelters.
Those efforts are continuing in 2023 with the first Cleveland Huddle event taking place at Berea Smokehouse Barbecue and Grill.
Owner Nathaniel Griggs II was excited to collaborate on the efforts with the Browns.
"The process was from the heart. They asked me to do it and I'm like, 'I got to get it done,'" Griggs said. "I built this restaurant for my family. So it's an honor to be presented as such and then also be able to team with the Browns and do something good for the community that can go a long way."
Griggs arrived at his restaurant bright and early and got to work, making meals for dozens of women at The City Mission's Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center.
"We gave about 80 pounds of wings, 40 pounds of french fries and 10 pounds of coleslaw," Griggs said. "Our OG sauce is made in-house...so we made sure we put that in, and we gave them some sweet barbecue, some ranch, some hot sauce...It’s a lot of love in the recipe."
After Griggs was done preparing the meals, he was surprised by former Browns fullback Kevin Mack, who signed a custom "Berea Smokehouse" Browns jersey for Griggs.
Over the past two years, the Browns have held similar events with Black-owned restaurants including GoodfellasBBQ in Cleveland Heights, Soul Fo’ Real in Strongsville, Sauce the City in Ohio City, Swerve Grille in Beachwood and Angie's Soul Food Cafe in Downtown Cleveland.
With the initiative back in full swing in 2023, Griggs is grateful to be part of it all, hoping that through the Browns support of his business, he was able to put some smiles on faces and some good food in the bellies of those in need.
"I just want them to smile today and let them know that it was made with love," Griggs said.
Berea Smokehouse Barbecue and Grill is located at 819 North Rocky River Drive.
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