When Will Hollingsworth and Brett Sawyer first met six years ago, they quickly knew they worked well together—kind of like a good burger and a milkshake.
The pair ewcwntly announced that Hollingsworth, owner of Buildings & Food Hospitality Group—under which he owns and manages the Spotted Owl locations in Tremont and Akron and Prosperity Social Club in Tremont—has acquired Sawyer’s Good Company, 1200 W. 76th St. in Battery Park. The move brings together their shared values, love of quality food, and a loyalty to Cleveland.
Sawyer opened Good Company in January 2019 with a mission of making delicious food from scratch. “We use the term, ‘we take simple food and make it difficult,’” he says of the menu of burgers, salads, milkshakes, and wings. “The time we put into it—we make our own buns, we make our own ice cream, we have chicken wings that take three days to make. We actually do make everything from scratch, and we have quality control over every last bit.”
Hollingsworth was seeing his own successes with the Spotted Owls and Prosperity Social Club. But with his businesses shut down due to COVID-19 in 2020, Hollingsworth in 2021 knowing he wanted to create a hospitality industry group.
“As we gained more and more employees I really had to think about what it would mean to have a full-on hospitality group,” Hollingsworth recalls. “In my opinion, so many things are happening in Cleveland right now, [but] it’s kind of like a race to the middle. I don’t want to be reactive; I don’t want to grow for the sake of growth.”
Instead, Hollingsworth says he always looks for the right balance of quality with local loyalty. “With Buildings & Food I’m dedicated to risky progressive [concepts] that people will come to, yet I felt the obligation to the old places in this town that could get mowed over," he says. "[We want to do] either new, risky, progressive things, or old school Cleveland things that we fell in love with to begin with.”
Hollingsworth and Sawyer knew of each other, but then met in 2016 when they were both up for Star Chefs’ Rising Star Awards. “Will came to The Plum (Sawyer’s former Ohio City café), and that night was really long,” Sawyer recalls. “We became best friends, and it began to snowball. We had mutual admirations, not only personally, but in what we do in food and beverage.”
With Prosperity, the two Spotted Owl locations, and Good Company all within the Buildings & Food group, Hollingsworth says the four restaurants fit the mission of merging old school Cleveland with the progressive vision of the city’s hip new establishments.
“These are ingredient-driven, chef-driven restaurants that represent a priority of purpose,” he says. “It’s connecting these things that we do that we’re so proud of, with the trio of innovation, preservation, outreach.”