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Follow Sage Restaurant Group every step of the way as it works to open Urban Farmer in Cleveland next April. The modern steakhouse is part of an $80-million hotel project.
Farm-to-table steakhouse sounds like an oxymoron, or a label an over-exuberant marketer might use, but here we learn that not only did Urban Farmer’s top chef spend a few days searching for primo ingredients at nearby farms, but a gang of Sage execs flew in to lead the charge.
On the day I first meet Peter Karpinski, the avid outdoorsman is wearing a white and blue checkered button-down shirt, dark jeans and cowboy boots. The shirt is tucked into his jeans, which makes a large belt buckle hard to miss. It reads “Urban Farmer” and is the same one worn by the staff at the restaurant in Portland. The city’s skyline is visible behind the type, he later tells me, and says ones will be made for Cleveland with its skyline.
Like the buckle, the new restaurant will be similar to the one in the Pacific Northwest, but with a decidedly Midwestern tilt. It’s described as a modern steakhouse, but farm-to-table is just as apt.
We’re having breakfast at the Marriott a block from where the new hotel and restaurant are being built. Peter arrived late the night before and we’re touching base before meeting up with the key players who will make or break the concept. They’re in town doing reconnaissance, exploring what the local area has to offer.
Peter grabs a large cup of coffee to go and we head out front to get his car and meet the others. There’s David Marsh, Sage’s senior v.p. of operations, and Michael Carr-Turnbough, the v.p. of culinary, both from the corporate office in Denver. And from Portland, there’s Matt Christianson, the executive chef at the Urban Farmer there, who will help open this one, and Troy Christian, the g.m. of another Sage concept, The Original, who will be moving to Cleveland soon to open this restaurant.