Posts Tagged ‘The Sparta’

The Sparta, Newark’s Introduction To Trans Culture

September 30, 2016

The latest reincarnation of Newark’s Sparta restaurant will sing its swan song at the coming out celebration of the currently-being-renovated Crystal Ballroom, 31 West Church, Friday, September 30. Analysis finds this appropriate enough, completing the cycle of life or wheel of karma (depending on your conviction). In the 9-26-16 Advocate (The Sparta looks for aid one more time) Barrett Lawlis reports: “The restaurant opened in 1900 as a combination restaurant and candy store. It has a storied history, often closing and reopening over the years. In 2012, Chris Ramsey opened the Sparta with the plan to use [it] for more than a restaurant: to use it as a transitional workplace.” Indeed, anyone from out of town looking for a good place to have breakfast (or lunch) would have had The Sparta as one of many choices in downtown Newark prior to the roundabout dig. The storefront signs, and those inside, gave all indications of an enterprising restaurant. Service was provided, and there was always coffee. Sometimes the out-of-towner might be struck by the slim pickings to be had to go with the coffee, or the ambiguous staff service when ordering or paying. The unfamiliar diner might sometimes be surprised by the establishment’s varied ambience – sometimes busy restaurant with an energetic and boisterous “meeting” taking place in the center, sometimes an almost classroom structure of instruction accompanying a customer’s request, other times an Edward Hopper “Nighthawks” tableau in the middle of the day. And then there was the variation in environment – from various community activisms posted to art and music venues. Should the unfamiliar customer venture to inquire as to any of these things, she would be summarily educated that The Sparta was not what it appeared to be. Rather, it was the establishment upon which something entitled Project Main Street found place in Newark. She would be informed that where she stopped to get a meal (and coffee, did we mention coffee?) was really a transitional workplace for Project Main Street; that much of the staff and management were volunteers, that The Sparta self-identified as a community center, and this was an enterprise where the customer did not always come first. Repast completed and back out on the streets again, she might be scratching her head, wondering why there was no signage of such to be seen from the street. Analysis finds that the days of The 3B School of Beauty, where the customer knew upfront that her hairdo was going to be part of a learning process, disappeared with the school. Ready or not, Newark has received an introduction to trans culture.

Goes Without Saying

February 9, 2016

News flying low and slow under the radar today concerns The Sparta in downtown Newark. Analysis notes not saying “The Sparta Restaurant” for The Sparta happens to be one of those shape shifting entities akin to a chameleon. No sooner than one reaches for “restaurant” than one is holding on to Project Main Street. As far as news is concerned, restaurants in downtown Newark come and go, primarily for aspirational reasons, money and business. But The Sparta is not a business though it is a restaurant; more of that shape shifting DNA. From the economists’ statistical standpoint of start up success, flower shops do best. Fastest failures are restaurants (see above “come and go”). Economists claim it takes 3 years for a restaurant to establish any sustainable potential. The Sparta is past that. What gives (or takes)? Anna Jeffries’ report “After three years, Sparta seeking community support” (2-5-16, Newark Advocate) provides the closest to a selfie of the shape shifting Sparta possible. The article presents future aspirations (“Raising the $10,000 by April will help the business, but it’s not the only solution, he said [“Allen Schwartz, acting president of the Sparta’s board”]. The number of meals sold every hour needs to increase by two to keep the restaurant in the black.”) as well as start up intentions (“He [Chris Ramsey, former Sparta owner and Project Main Street originator] opened the restaurant with a plan to offer jobs to people who wanted to be trained to work in the restaurant industry. His long term goals included creating a community supported agriculture program to grow locally-produced food, launch a green-jobs training program and convert the second floor of the Sparta into classroom space.”). But what is Project Main Street? Like all of today’s presidential candidates say – you can go to the website for specifics on mission statement, policy, etc. Much like the poor, Jeffries’ article reveals The Sparta’s great (and urgent) need. Most poor want better than what they have which, if they are poor, they may have in name only, or not at all. Precarious would best describe it. Unlike the poor, The Sparta has a rich network of like minded entities of goodwill. Indeed, merging with Goodwill would be one outlet from poverty. The two shape shifting entities compliment each other by maintaining analogous descriptions of being not for profit while operating as a business. Businesses that are not really businesses but embrace business because, well, it’s good business! From “Newman’s Own” to “Wounded Warriors” Americans are not only familiar with but inundated by shape shifting entities whose mission statements consist of service and community, that are in the business of serving the disadvantaged, which often extends to the poor. Analysis finds all of this implicates an “advantaged” lurking somewhere. This becomes a bit unsavory determining who’s in, who’s out, who is rich and who is poor, the advantaged, the disadvantaged, and who’s responsible for what. These shape shifting businesses differ from religious institutions who answer to a higher calling. They also differ from public, democratically instituted and maintained providers like the library, senior centers, public arts organizations and public schools. Shape shifters, like The Sparta, superficially resemble today’s ever growing public/private partnerships. The resemblance fails in that though shifty, public/private partnerships have no shape. Analysis finds this to be yet another option for The Sparta – becoming shapeless by being subsumed within the Licking County Chamber of Commerce that administrates the Grow Licking County public/private partnership. A theoretical option is relocation. SPARK has relocated its art workshop from downtown Newark to Granville. A “Goodwill” type local donation business once operated in Granville for the benefit of Licking Memorial Hospital. The business is gone, no longer needed by Granville or the community hospital. But the volunteer and goodwill potential remain. Local business, local donation, locally sourced, all involve location. Such a move might entail a loss of property, history and personal identity through the rupture of re-location, but what poor person hasn’t been subjected to that?