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“First and foremost, my family inspires me each and everyday. I want to leave this world a better place so that they can enjoy it, and hope that they will do the same for their children.”


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When Jonathon and Amelia Sawyer first moved back to Cleveland from New York City, they knew that they wanted to open a restaurant that embraced simplicity and approachability. Jonathon has always believed that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant correlates directly to the quality of its food. This idea encouraged the two to open a restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern, which evokes the farm to plate movement.

Chef Sawyer’s involvement with the local Slow Foods Convinium & the Cuyahoga Valley Conservation Society has inspired and embraced his belief in creating menus & recipes defined solely by the land of local communities. The Greenhouse Tavern will be a small step towards the evolving relationship between the farm and the plate via actively supporting the neighboring communities, fundamentals of the eco movement and local farms & farmers.

MO: Can you expand upon the two guiding principles that The Greenhouse Tavern’s mission is based upon?

Jonathon: It is essential that we leave the world in a better state for our children than it was left for us; this is the fundamental basis in all of our business plans. The Greenhouse Tavern, a french, seasonally inspired gastropub, and Noodlecat, a mash-up noodlehouse serving the best ramen Cleveland has ever seen, are the first two Dine Green Certified Restaurant in Ohio. This certification was earned through constant commitment to sustainability, use of local ingredients, and reduced impact on the environment. Brick & Mortar pop-ups serves as a great avenue for us to share these ideas with other chefs & friends.

We truly believe that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant directly correlates to the quality of its food. Therefore we constantly strive to also source locally produced and non-processed ingredients at Sawyer’s Street Frites in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Even the Tavern Vinegar Company recycles by utilizing otherwise wasted beer & wine to make a great tasting product.

These environmentally conscious or green business practices are fundamental as we further the growth of our company and continue to actively improve our lives and businesses. It is our hopes that others will follow.

MO: After settling down in NYC, what influenced your decision to return to your hometown of Cleveland and open a restaurant? Do you think that it would have been possible to achieve the same level of success and recognition as quickly in New York?

Jonathon: My wife and I decided to move back to Cleveland for a number of reasons. It really hit us when we went out for a date one night: dinner, drinks and a movie. By the time we enjoyed the evening and paid for a babysitter, it cost almost $300. We realized that we could have the same lifestyle, and be around our friends and family for a substantially lower cost of living in Cleveland. We knew the city and both loved it, so when we got pregnant with our second child, we decided to move back home. I also knew it would be much easier to realize the vision of owning and operating my own restaurant with the support of our families and friends. As far as success, I think I’m lucky to be part of the ever growing culinary scene in Cleveland and am honored to bring national recognition to my hometown each and every day.

MO: Can you talk about how you’ve incorporated efficiency, creative up-cycling and the use of green technologies into your business?

Jonathon: Building Green is a greater commitment than just repurposing historic elements… we specified EnergyStar rated appliances and implemented cutting-edge technologies to save water, provide beautiful lighting with less electricity, and provide a healthy indoor environment for our guests to enjoy and our team to work in.

> The concrete floor in the main dining & mezzanines are made with the addition of Fly-Ash; a safe, reclaimed waste product from Electric Power Station smoke stacks. It prevents waste and makes a stronger, longer lasting concrete!

> Our primary lighting is a mix of Compact Florescent lights and LED lighting. These come in all shapes and sizes, save loads of electricity and now can be dimmed just like old fashioned Incandescent bulbs.

> Our bars, kitchens and rest rooms all make use of the latest Water Saving technologies. Our faucets use motion sensors, and in our Rest rooms – the faucets and Dual Flushers are Solar Powered. (We also have a Water-Free urinal fixture for the Gents!)

> The Carpet Tiles on our Mezzanine floors are not only produced in a Sustainable factory and with high-recycled content – they are samples that were headed for the Landfill! We collected the samples that Interior Designers and Architects order from the manufacturer and eventually must dispose of. From our collection we made a fine Patchwork Quilt in motley for a lovely effect.

> Dramatic and high quality light fixtures are a must have for a chic restaurant. Many are made abroad and in wasteful factories. We went to our local Bike Co-Op and found just the right sized bike rims to form our own custom light fixtures. Look Up! The Bicycle Lights are in our main Dining Space – LED Powered, eco-fabric shades and beautifully unique.

> Breathe Easy! Our paints, stains and coatings are formulated to protect the air we breath with less VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). Beautiful, durable and sustainable.

>We also control our waste by composting and recycle everything we can.

And that’s just the story of The Greenhouse Tavern!

MO: How did a corked bottle of your favorite wine turn into a hobby turned business opportunity?

Jonathon: Sustainable practices and frugality are the core fundamentals of all our business plans. I began making vinegars from leftover beer & wine as a way of recycling and repurposing our waste. Eventually fermenting one bottle of red wine turned into a 30 gallon carboy, into an entire cellar full of otherwise useless product transformed into delicious new vinegars. We use the vinegars at our restaurant and began selling them retail last year. Our demand is growing, and we’re now ready to up our supply.

MO: Who or what inspires you? If you could sit down with any chef in the world, who would you choose and what types of questions would you ask them?

Jonathon: First and foremost, my family inspires me each and everyday. I want to leave this world a better place so that they can enjoy it, and hope that they will do the same for their children. If I could sit down with any chef in the world, I would want to dine with Fernand Point, the father of modern French cuisine. His style of preparing meals “a la minute” with daily changing ingredients changed the culinary mindset indefinably. I want to meet him, ask him how be came up with the concept, and enjoy a meal together the way he would have served it at La Pyramide.

MO: How has social media influenced the relationships that you have with your customers?

Jonathon: I think Social Media is the best way to spread the word and interact with our guests. We actively use Twitter, Instagram & Facebook at all of our restaurant, keeping followers engaged by posting a variety of content, including food photography, press promotion, events, and chef interaction. Though these posts we’ve built a great relationship with our client base. We recognize many of our twitter followers and facebook fans when they come in the restaurant, and we treat them like friends & family. It’s a great way to meet people and personalize their dining experience. We encourage all of our staff to have active social media accounts and post things that they are excited about. It just adds that extra touch of personalization that makes our guests feel welcome.


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