Game Day: Family-run business combines elements of Sicily and Poland

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 8/12/18

Cleveland now has its very own establishment, Game Day, which is not only family-owned, but also provides a variety of tailgating and event foods and catering, all in one special place with a …

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Game Day: Family-run business combines elements of Sicily and Poland

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Cleveland now has its very own establishment, Game Day, which is not only family-owned, but also provides a variety of tailgating and event foods and catering, all in one special place with a slightly international twist.

Owned by husband and wife Dominic and Lillian Cusumano, and staffed by their son, Frankie, and daughter, Lilly, as well as other employees, Game Day is a combination store and restaurant catered to those who need a quick, big or unique meal with excellent quality.

The family is originally from Michigan, with grandparents coming over from Europe. As Dominic’s grandparents were from Sicily and Lillian’s from Poland, the two have combined their cultures into their meal offerings.

Game Day offers classic tailgating and grilling foods with unique twists. For instance, brats are sold that range in flavor from fennel to spicy and even traditional Sicilian blend. The Cusumanos sell sliced-daily sandwiches for those on the run as well. All products have a seven-day shelf life to ensure freshness. If items are reaching the end of their shelf life, they are frozen for people interested in purchasing them to be cooked soon or kept frozen.

“The most important thing about us is that we are bringing in items that no one else has. So we aren’t here to hurt any local businesses or make them go out of business, we want everyone to grow here.”

Dominic said in Tennessee, everyone has a team they really idolize, be it the Vols, Bulldogs, etc. and always have celebrations on game day with friends and family. His family’s company is meant to supply all necessary items to make these celebrations as fun and memorable as possible. Foods can be purchased in bulk, or even bought cooked.

“We consider what we sell to be the best of the best,” Dominic said. “The Coney Island hot dogs we have are the absolute best. It’s a double-smoked hot dog that was the same type used in the ballparks in 1904 and it crunches when you bite into it.”

Steaks are also sold at Game Day including sirloin and New York strip, as well as hamburgers, shrimp, pork chops, hot dogs, cheeses and chili.

“This is 100 percent Black Angus beef,” said Lilly Cusumano, Lillian and Dominic’s daughter. “All our meats are DNA traceable, so you can take one of our burgers, get the code and we can tell you where the cow came from, who its parents were, what it ate, where it was born, etc. It’s ancestry.com for your meat.”

The family is a staunch supporter of local suppliers, which is why they are proud of their Mayfield Dairy sign hanging in the store. Dominic was told by Mayfield that large ice cream coolers are rarely stocked in new restaurants, but upon seeing the layout of Game Day and the offerings the Cusumanos have, Mayfield was immediately on board and supplied the store with numerous branded items. Game Day is now one of the only locations aside from Athens itself which serves hand-scooped Mayfield ice cream. Several other items are locally made, including Williamson Bros. BBQ sauce, which is made in Georgia; and Coca-Cola, obviously bottled in Cleveland and headquartered in Atlanta.

Moving as a family, the Cusumanos look for good values in their homes, and believe Cleveland is an excellent place to set up shop.

“We moved here because of the people, the environment and the weather,” Dominic said. “Plus, the amount of Christianity in the area is great, and we see that everyone supports one another.”

As a testament to their unique background, gyros are a house specialty, with the meat being roasted on a traditional spit and shaved off fresh for the sandwiches.

“We buy the meat from the Greek people themselves, because we want to have the most authentic gyros possible,” Lillian said.

Being from Michigan also inspired the family to bring a favorite brand of chip to their new store, Better Made Special chips, which have been produced in Detroit since 1930. Better Made’s plain chips’s only ingredients are potatoes, vegetable oil and salt, which the Cusumanos praise as their healthier, better tasting option for chips. They also have the rest of Better Made’s flavors, including Sweet Heat Barbecue, Barbecue, Garlic Dill Pickle, Jalepeno and Hot.

Two employees spoke to the fun environment of Game Day, including Chloe Freake, a music business major at Lee, and Abigail Holden, a 17-year-old senior at Bradley High School.

Lillian and Dominic are currently hiring more employees as well, but praised the hard work ethic of both Freake and Holden.

The family is very open to constructive criticism, and will try to provide products based on customer suggestions or particular taste.

Ironically, amidst the hearty grilling foods, Game Day also provides salads, pancake mixes and even quinoa microwave meals for vegetarians. In celebration of its recent opening, anyone who visits Game Day will receive a sample of the Better Made Special chips to test out the products before buying.

Game Day is located at 1805 Keith St., and is not open on Sundays. It can be reached at 423-790-5571 or via its website at www.gamedaymarketplace.com. The family encourages everyone to come out and meet them and see what they have to offer.

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