|One Side of the dining room|
Food TV Network's Restaurant Impossible gave Moss' Prime Rib and Spaghetti Restaurant a complete makeover
and my household watched in fascination. Having lived and worked in the midwest for many year, and The Man having grown up in the midwest, we felt a kinship with Sandi, owner of Moss', and we know how it's been going for small midwest towns like Elyria. Sandi and Moss' story is playing out all over the midwest, not just in Elyria. Here is Elyria's story as I know it. Elyria is the county seat, and there is a historic downtown area with Broad St as it's main road, and there is a lovely courthouse square, a grassy park, at the corner of Court and Broad Street, and just a few paces from Moss'. Over the past 25-30 years, downtown businesses closed or moved to the strip malls which popped up on the the other side of the highway where land was cheaper, and big box stores draw a crowd. Some downtown buildings are falling in disrepair, and there isn't the same draw as there was in the 1970s. Visitors and tourist love to visit "Mayberry" downtowns with quaint stores, downtown parks, quaint locally owned restaurants, and get the look and feel of hometown America. Elyria downtown no longer has the "Mayberry" look and feel and has not for years. Elyria, and many other midwest small towns have not kept up the "Mayberry" downtown. Because day-to-day errands cannot be conducted downtown anymore, locals do not go downtown, and because there isn't a tourist interest downtown anymore, tourists do not go to Elyria downtown either.
Part of me misses the hometown America, and I do try to partake in the hometown restaurant when I can. Moss' and Sandi represents what is going on all over small towns which are struggling. I really wanted to go and see for myself, and try this really great prime rib Moss' and Sandi has to offer.
|2nd side of the dining room|
A few weeks ago, I was in the Elyria area around dinner time, and it was the perfect time for me to try the prime rib. I noticed that Moss' is the anchor restaurant for the downtown area. That is a lot of weight to put on one restaurant's and one woman's shoulders. There were a few resident homeless, sitting nearby Moss', and in this small town everyone knows there name, and they are part of the fabric of Elyria. I walk up to the Moss' noticing the "for sale" sign. Sandi wants to sell and move out of Ohio, maybe somewhere warmer, but no one is buying anything in this dying town, so here Sandi stays. I walk in, and I love the makeover that Restaurant Impossible did. It is comfortable, there are neutral tones that I like, the wall decorations and light fixtures are tasteful, and the whole look and feel is very inviting to stay and dine.
Because I was on the early side for dinner, the slow roasted prime rib was not ready to come out yet. Moss' is quite particular about their prime rib, and they know how to make a very good prime rib. I had already had my French onion soup to start, and they said it was going to be about 1/2 hr to an hour before the perfect piece of extra rare (that is how I like it!) will be ready. So, I asked them if I could go out and look around Elyria for an hour, and then come back for the rest of my dinner. Sandi and staff are exactly what you want in hometown hospitality. They gave me directions to an area where I could go walk and get some exercise for an hour. I wanted to pay for the soup, but they said no, they trusted me that I would be back for the rest of my dinner. That is just sweet mid-west hospitality. I could have been a bum and skipped out on them, but I am and wouldn't because they are just good mid-west souls running this restaurant.
|My prime rib dinner|
I finished my walk, and went back to Moss' for the rest of my dinner. I asked the waiter why they trusted that I wouldn't skip out on them. Well, that is just their nature. They are good solid mid-west people, and that is how it is in the America's mid-west small towns. You can't get this trust, kindness and warmth from a big box chain, you can only get this from locally owned restaurants owned by good people.
I ordered the prime rib extra rare, a baked potato and side salad. I gotta say, as well as Restaurant Impossible says, Moss' knows how to cook a good prime rib. My prime rib was perfectly cooked for me, and quite tender. Moss' can deliver medium and well down also, but I was very happy with the perfect piece of prime rib for me. My potato was exactly cook the way I wanted with real butter and sour cream to top it. Moss' was also able to give me some jus to dip my prime rib, real straight up horseradish, and also horseradish cream for a variety of dipping pleasure. It was a good meal for me. Next time I am in the area, I will likely go back to Moss' when I want a nice piece of prime rib.
My wish is that Elyria can restore its downtown to all is former splendor. It took Nashville about 10 years to get its downtown back, and now it is a destination for tourist and locals alike on any day of the year. Franklin, TN also restored its downtown too, and Franklin is to Nashville, is similar to Elyria is to Cleveland. Franklin is about 20 miles out side of Nashville, as Elyria is about 20 miles outside of Cleveland. Both towns have have central downtown business district. Both has plenty of free parking. Franklin made big efforts for years, the long haul, to attract and retain coffee shops, restaurants, and locally owned shops to open in its now vibrant downtown. Franklin established annual family friendly events and festivals throughout the year, and adult wine tasting events, which is a nice way to re-introduce visitors and locals to how great Franklin is. The first years of these festivals were lightly attended, but the word caught on, and people and families from all over love Franklin and the festivals now. I think Elyria downtown can make a comeback, with Moss' as its central restaurant, but will take time, focus, inviting events and political will to do so.