Sad Day For Sustainability: City Provisions Deli Closes

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Monday, January 28, 2013 - 7:49pm

Chef Cleetus Friedman has led the sustainability movement in Chicago. He's partnered with local farmers, producers, brewers, etc., to make the food we eat and the beverages we drink truly local. Unfortunately that comes with a price, and for now that price is too steep. In an open letter to the community Chef Cleetus announced that he's closing his City Provisions Delicatessen effective immediately:


To The Community,

"What's a purpose?" Freddie had asked.

"A reason for being," Daniel had answered. "To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being..."

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, Leo Buscaglia


As of Monday January 28th I am closing the City Provisions Delicatessen.

I guess there is something to be said about committing to a mission. And perhaps there is a reason why there is nothing like City Provisions.

While I gave everything I had every day of the week to all of my staff, vendors, and guests, in the end I found that sustainability - an undying commitment to what that means - wasn't sustainable. While it looked great from the outside, on the inside we faced many challenges. The praise that hangs on my wall and the Internet speaks to my passion, and that will never change.

I could have bought different milk. Different eggs. I could have used non eco-friendly parchment paper. I could sent everything to landfill. I could have used an inferior product. I could have had a Sysco truck deliver my food and have one person work a deep fryer and microwave. I consciously chose to do things one way. Maybe I was stubborn. I was committed to doing what I believed to be the right thing.

Real food takes not just passion, but labor. And these numbers add up. The fact is, I put the same level of ingredients and labor into a sandwich, chips and pickle that my colleagues are putting into a $25 entree. Perhaps we, as a community, are not prepared to take on the challenge of a $15 - $20 lunch ticket, but I know I tried to do it the best way, true to my ideals and focused on creating the best product possible.

I made many connections and fostered many relationships that led to great things, which is has always been part of my purpose. I love and have been embraced by the Ravenswood community-but this location simply does not produce the type of foot traffic a business like City Provisions needs to be financially viable.

I cannot fail to mention how amazing, supportive, and committed my entire staff has been. I also want to thank the our guests, from the regulars to those who came in yesterday for the first time.

I have no doubt that my next step will parlay all I have learned and turn into a great move. I fully intend to continue the brand I have built for myself by supporting the local food movement, coming up with unique collaborations, and sharing my Farm Dinner series.

As the future unfolds, I plan to keep pushing the boundaries of the local food movement and keeping you excited about the world I am living stay tuned.

I thank you all for your undying support and look forward to informing you of the next steps.

Thank you for your support!

Chef Cleetus Friedman

I'm sorry to hear about this, Chef Cleetus, but I know you aren't going far and you'll be back soon.

Photo: Chef Cleetus, talking at our Chef's Table event at Chicago Specialty Gardens

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Theresa Carter

Theresa Carter is the founder and publisher of The Local Tourist. 

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