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Local restaurants serve fans at the 2021 NFL draft

The NFL asked about a dozen local restaurants to to dish out local fare outside the Great Lakes Science Center during the draft.

CLEVELAND — As fans flock to downtown Cleveland for all the festivities surrounding the NFL Draft, they’re also getting a literal taste of the city. The NFL Experience, which surrounds the main stage with activities, has brought in about a dozen local vendors to supply food and beverages.

“It’s a collaboration, we help each other out, out here,” says Eddie Jay, co-owner of Ohio City BBQ. “It’s a family.”

Jay’s restaurant was one of those selected by the NFL through their business connects program. The league reached out to Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and other organizations for recommendations on giving fans some of the best food Cleveland has to offer. The restaurants selected say it’s coming at a time when they all need the extra business.

“It’s a good opportunity, that’s first and foremost,” says Jay. “Especially for all the people who lost workers to Covid. So coming out here and having them have us do the event, it’s a straight blessing.”

Officials anticipate as many as 50,000 people will participate in the NFL Draft Experience each day.