CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A food fight is unfolding on Fountain Square. Since 2005, the revitalization of the square has made it a popular place to be. But now, one offering that attracts many to the square is going away. The large food tent that houses Skyline Chili, Tom + Chee, and Eli's BBQ will be taken down at the end of the month, a month earlier than usual, so maintenance and repairs can be done. But the difference is, it won't be going back up. 3CDC, the organization that runs events and maintains the square says the large tent has been a problem when it comes to space, and cleanliness. But those who cook the food, and those who eat it, are not happy to see it go.
Elias Leisring is the owner of Eli's BBQ. When he started his business a year and a half ago, he didn't have much in the way of start-up money, and had to attract customers one day at a time, serving them home-cooked food on the square Monday through Friday. His work paid off. He now has a good following, "Well, its great cause there's foot traffic and there's a lot of people downtown that want to eat lunch in this area for under $10 so we make homemade mac and cheese, baked beans, and all homemade comfort food, and sell it for under $10."
Leisring says tent space has allowed another local business to get off the ground, too, "Our food's real popular, and the people next to us, Tom & Chee, have been here a couple years too and we have kind of grown up together. And they have moved on to other restaurant spaces and it's going really well for them. The whole thing has kind of been a good incubator for small local businesses to start and they can get into a space that has good foot traffic at a price they can afford because there start up. I started with no money and were moving on to a space too, so it's been a great incubator and it's a shame to see it go."
3CDC tells Fox 19, "This is not a complete elimination of food on the square – We will still have event such as the Tuesday Strauss & Troy Market. While there will not be a permanent food tent, Food will be back at some events, just not all events. We have also been working with the City Administration on allowing Food Truck vendors around the Square on both Fifth and Vine Street."
If you want to weigh in on this issue, contact 3CDC at their website. And Fox 19 will bring you the latest, as well.