The Civil War Over Swensons
By: Eleanor Clements and Grace Beneke
Perspective from the North:
As a true Cleveland Northerner who lives in Shaker Heights, I was ecstatic about Swensons deciding to expand their franchise and open up a store in University Heights! Everyone loves Swensons’ delicious food and curbside service, and opening up a store in University Heights was their best move so far. If you don’t know what Swensons is, it’s an All-American inexpensive burger place with curbside service and really good fries & onion rings. This kind of delicious food should not be held hostage by Akron, but rather shared with the Northern part of Cleveland! Granted, it was in Akron first and people need to respect the origin, however the move to University Heights doesn’t TAKE AWAY from the location in Akron, but rather increases the fan base along with the revenue, keeping this delicious place in business. Statistically speaking, this is their best money-making move because people “up north” are obsessed with Swensons and now that it’s more convenient, I think the business will start to see a huge increase in revenue. Furthermore, the drive down to Akron is cumbersome and yes it’s most definitely worth it for the delicious Galleyboy or signature milkshakes, but now that it’s in UH it can be enjoyed on a more regular basis! Also, the neighbors in UH are ecstatic for the new business that Swensons will bring to the area. Gary Lebowitz, owner of Jack’s Deli, says “I think it’s going to bring a lot of different people to this area, I welcome it.” There are plenty of other things to bring people down to visit Akron, but good food originates and belongs in the heart of Cleveland.
Perspective from the South:
As a true Akroner from the “south side” or the “deep south”, I was massively disappointed when I learned that Swensons decided to open up a branch in University Heights. Swensons has been exclusively a south side thing since its opening in 1934. Eighty-four years of you clevelanders having to drive down to Akron to get your milkshakes and brown sugar grilled patties. It gave you clevelanders an excuse to come down to Akron and see how authentic and unique the city was. For once you guys would have to leave your bubble up north to come down and experience Akron in its full potential.
People down south love their Swensons, but we know not to go four times in one week (I have seen people do this since the University Heights opening.) We go maybe once or twice a month because we know that it is the best around, it is not meant to be had four times a week, and it is always going to be there. When you pull up to the original Swensons on South Hawkins right off of Market Street, there are many cars pulled up but still there is no trouble at all finding a spot and you never have to wait more than twenty minutes to get your food. Whereas everytime I drive past the University Heights branch, I am yet to see less than twenty-five cars. You northerners are so beyond obsessed with Swensons you are ruining the classic style of the restaurant. Now I am all for sharing with you guys, but you gotta respect the style of Swensons and not obsessively go.
A common argument that I have heard is “Akron is too far away and isn’t as cool.” Well my friends, Akron is actually beyond cool. You can even ask Mr. Parsons or Mr. Vogel. It was recently featured in Vogue magazine as one of the up and coming cities. Akron has so much going for it right now: good food, a diverse immigrant population, a wide variety of cultures, Lebron James, and its locals neverending pride for the city. The people are nice, it’s a family town, and it is nowhere near as developed as Cleveland and University Heights. You can drive four minutes outside of downtown and be inside a metro park surrounded by trees. Akron is a truly special place. Regarding the distance, I drive it everyday. Yes it is long for you folk who drive five minutes to get to school or never leave the east side, but it is well worth it.
Swensons is something special that shouldn’t become the next big food chain. It is a family style curbside restaurant that does not belong up North. Cuyahoga county is honestly the polar opposite of Summit county and Swensons does not belong in the lifestyle of Cleveland–it should remain a south side thing. Swensons does not need more revenue at all. It is known nationwide as having the best burger, the Galleyboy. They have no trouble bringing in business at all, so yes there will be an increase in revenue, but it was not necessary and is not the best business decision they’ve made so far. The best business decision they’ve made so far is deciding to open a food truck that people can hire to come to events.