This time of year, as the leaves fall off the trees and the air becomes brisk and icy, a rack of coats and jackets sit outside Clifton's Good Plates Eatery with a sign marked "Free Coats, Stay Warm." Throughout the day, students, customers and Cincinnatians in need can stop by to grab a piece of clothing to keep them warm throughout the winter.
This is all a part of a free coat drive established by Good Plates Eatery, which is a short walk from the south side of the University of Cincinnati's (UC) uptown campus. As of fall 2022, free coat drives have become a tradition for the owners of Good Plates Eatery, who are currently planning their third coat giveaway of the season.
Giving coats to the community started in 2021, when co-owners Jamie and Andrew Schlanser bought coat racks and approached the public for donations.
"We originally just bought some clothing racks, and it just blew up [in popularity]," Schlanser said. "We're in a community where many people may not have their own coats [for the winter season], which is why [the free coat drive] is so important to do."
Good Plates Eatery is no stranger to providing kindness and a hospitable feeling to the Clifton community, whether with its donation efforts or the restaurant itself.
Good Plates serves various dishes bound to make you feel at home while introducing you to new and exciting flavors. The restaurant specializes in casual American-style food with a slight twist — whether it's a fried chicken sandwich served cold or a meatball sub served with chorizo.
The restaurant's central theme is creating a home-like atmosphere for people who may not have the chance to go home very often, including college students at UC.
"We're located by four major hospitals and a large university," Andrew Schlanser said. "There's a lot of people in this area [like medical professionals and college students] who can't be at home, and we want those people to have a space while they're away from home."
The food served at Good Plates is nearly always cooked by the owners, who've been occupying the kitchen and cooking each order since the restaurant opened in August 2020.
The restaurant was originally scheduled to open in spring 2020 — mere days before public health mandates were enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which completely halted Good Plates Eatery from opening until August 2020.
After finally opening, however, traction started to build with the restaurant's popularity, especially among the UC and Greater Cincinnati communities.
This local engagement was also built by another one of Good Plates Eatery's donation events, where the restaurant cooked and gave away free meals to the public during Thanksgiving and Christmas. This practice started as soon as the restaurant opened in 2020. During 2021's food giveaway, Good Plates Eatery gave away nearly 900 hot meals to anyone who needed one — no questions, no charge and no invitations required.
They've carried the tradition through to this year's holiday season — except on a larger scale. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2022, Good Plates Eatery plans to give away more than 1,000 meals to the community.
Anyone is free to stop by and grab a meal, according to Schlanser, no matter how badly they need their next meal.
Good Plates Eatery will be hosting its Thanksgiving meal drive on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the restaurant at 235 W. McMillian Street. The drive will start at noon and continue until supplies run out. Each plate will contain turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, rolls and stuffing.
According to Good Plates Eatery's Facebook page, "If you need a place to chill out, take a load off, stay and enjoy some hot chocolate or coffee and eat a meal while you're here. Tell a friend to bring a friend."
Good Plates Eatery will be hosting a similar drive on Dec. 24, starting at noon and continuing until the food is gone.