CLEVELAND -- Whether it's ice cream, cookies or cupcakes, SynDee Bergen knows what's up.

"I'm a dessert lover," she says.

As co-owner of Churned and A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont, she's part of Cleveland's rich food community.

It's these small artisan specialty shops that enrich the food scene beyond our great icons and internationally known chefs.

"Not only do they bring employment to the city, but it gives a reason to go out."

And like any Clevelander, she's more than happy to share a few of her own favorite foodie picks.

That's part of the independent Cleveland culinary scene, the desire to support each other,

Even throwing a little work to other local independent businesses… Bergen makes homemade ChocoTacos for local hotspot Barrio.

The cooperation happens between the restaurants, too, as nearly 50 downtown locations band together for Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week.

Every restaurant will offer a three-course meal for $30, and some will offer special $15 lunches.

Chef Richard Arnoldi at Muse in The Ritz-Carlton downtown gave us a preview of what they'll be serving. Their restaurant week menu includes shrimp and grits, a wedge salad, lobster pasta, peanut butter chocolate bomb and more.

Some places will even allow diners to get creative.

It's not only a great deal, but a sign of the multi-layered, stick-together nature of Cleveland's culture of food.

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week starts Friday and runs through March 2.


WKYC's Eric Sever contributed to this report

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