There’s still time to enjoy local specials for your Easter table.
Barb Talevich, owner of the West Side Bakery, 2303 W. Market St., is offering her family’s special recipe sweet bread, which is made with egg dough and studded with golden raisins and a touch of orange and lemon zest.
Great Harvest Bread, 3900 Medina Road, Copley Township, also is offering specialty breads for the holiday, including its whole wheat Honey Bunnies, loaves shaped into adorable bunnies.
Speaking of Great Harvest Bread, owners Kim Hannon and John Smith are interested in selling their business and have put the word out that they are looking for potential buyers.
Today also marks the start of the annual Easter bake sale at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 129 S. Union St., Akron.
Members of the church will be offering traditional Greek pastries and Easter bread for sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday. Phone 330-434-0000 to place an order or stop by the church.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, the church also is having its weekly lunch where you can dine on gyros, soup, salads and other Greek favorites.
Casa Mimi/Perfetto closed
Plenty of folks have been asking me what happened to Casa Perfetto (Casa Mimi), the Akron stalwart on Manchester Road, known for its homestyle Italian dishes.
After 45 years, the eatery closed in November without warning, and daughter Lia Perfetto Edsall agreed to chat about the end.
Since her mother, Charlotte, died in 2008, Edsall said things had not been the same at the restaurant. Sales had been declining along with the restaurant’s neighborhood. There was little around the location, so people had to go out of their way to get there. The family tried to sell their building and find a better location, but rents at other sites were too high.
“It was a whole bunch of different things,” she explained.
Then, in July, her father, Giuseppe Perfetto, 63, suffered an aneurysm and stroke. While he is recovering, the illness forced him to retire, leaving Edsall to run the restaurant on her own, while her sister Francesca Perfetto Yanik cared for their father. Edsall was always the cook and her sister worked in the front of the house.
The load just became too much, and the sisters decided to close. Their last day was Nov. 13. They still are trying to sell the building, and to make matters worse, someone ran into it in December, causing some damage.
I asked Edsall if the stars aligned, would the family ever consider reopening? She said that wasn’t likely. After growing up at the restaurant, Edsall said she is enjoying working for someone else for a change, and her sister has her hands full raising a young son and caring for their father.
“We’re all working and taking care of everything. It’s just a lot less stress,” she said.
The restaurant was opened as Casa Mimi in 1967, by her dad’s brother, Mimi Perfetto, and his wife. Eventually her parents took over.
The name change, from Casa Mimi to Casa Perfetto, happened in 2009 after her mother died and the family discovered it was easier to reopen under a new name than to go through all of the red tape of transferring licenses out of her name.
But Edsall said the family realized that to most, the restaurant would always be Casa Mimi.
She said the restaurant had an older clientele, many of whom are returning from Florida now and just finding out that the place closed. It was bittersweet.
“I grew up there and worked there my whole life,” she said. “But it’s a good thing in a way that my dad can relax and enjoy his retirement and not have to be faced with worrying about ‘Should I go in and help?’ ”
Got a winning burger?
The John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St., Akron, is sponsoring a contest to celebrate the 14th anniversary of its JSK Café, the outdoor eatery that opens every summer at the JSK.
Entrants to the contest must create a burger to go up against their chef’s. One recipe will be selected from all entries and will be placed on the menu at the JSK Café this summer.
Patrons can vote for which burger they prefer between May 31 and Aug. 2. The winner will be announced Aug. 9.
If the challenger burger can beat the chef’s, its creator will receive free lunch at the JSK Café every week for the entire 2014 season.
For rules and an entry form, visit www.johnsknightcenter.org.
It’s in the bag
Buehler’s Fresh Foods Nobles Pond, 7138 Fulton Drive NW, Jackson Township, will play host to the East Central Ohio Food Dealers Association’s Annual Bagging Contest at 6:30 p.m. April 2.
The contest brings out baggers to determine “the best of the best.”
Contestants race the clock to quickly pack about 20 grocery items. In addition to speed, baggers are judged on their ability to properly fill reusable grocery bags and evenly distribute items so that bags are approximately equal in weight.
Baggers are also rated on style, attitude and appearance.
The top four baggers will advance to a championship round immediately following a qualifying round, and the winners will earn cash prizes of $500, for first place, $200 second place and $100 for third and fourth places.
Cookies for a cause
Panera Bread locations in Northeast Ohio will be selling a special shortbread cookie in the shape of a puzzle piece from April 2 to 6 to support National Autism Awareness month.
Panera is calling the campaign Pieces of Hope for Autism.
All proceeds will be donated to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Center for Autism, and Medical Mutual will match the donation up to $25,000.
Winning goat cheese
Congrats to Mackenzie Creamery, the Hiram Township goat cheese maker, and its owner Jean Mackenzie, for winning a Silver Medal for its fresh Cognac Fig Chevre from the United States Championship Cheese Competition held earlier this month in Green Bay, Wis.