Windermere Station In & Out
by Shana Black
I’ll admit it… I’m the quintessential Shaker girl. Some days I’m more of a Shaker snob or a Shaker brat. So when I was told to head over to East Cleveland, specifically the Windermere Rapid station to check out a restaurant I was a bit….judgmental.
My mission was to meet and talk with local Black business owners deemed a success story for one of my clients. I was told to connect with Vanisca Ford, the owner of the Windermere In and Out, and that I would LOVE her. Ok I thought…. They were right.
Full disclosure, as much as I like riding the RTA, I am more of a Blue/Green line kind of girl. In fact, I rarely ride the Red Line and I have never gone all the way to the Windermere station. Even driving over for the interview, I realized I wasn’t exactly sure where the Windermere station was located and ended up at the wrong Red Line station at first.
Once I found the station, I was first a little amazed at the appearance and cleanliness of the station. It was buzzing with RTA riders coming in on buses and trains, waiting outside for rides from friends, or their transfer to their next destination. As soon as I entered, I looked to the right and saw a sign that said “Taco Tuesday special.” I finally found it.
I entered through the door that read “Coffee Shop.” The first thing I noticed was the music playing, which was all my favorite old school jams. I also noticed all the “good candy” and snacks that were for sale. Finally, I noticed a sign in the corner that said, “I’m Sooooo EC.” I’m not. I almost went into my old LEL league Shaker-Shaw rivalry feelings but then checked myself and refocused.
As I waited to sit down with the owner, I noticed there were a lot of RTA drivers stopping in for a quick bite of something to drink and that the customers all seemed to know the staff. I met with Vanisca, the owner, and had so many questions of my own, that I’m not even sure I got through all my clients' questions.
I found out that Vanisca is from the neighborhood, a graduate of Shaw High, and had thought it important to open this space for the people of the inner ring suburb. She said mentions that she is one of only 2 shops on RTA’s property and has drivers and patrons from all over town stop in for a quick bite to eat. She reinforced the idea that the speed of service is important since most of her clients are on the go or stop over on a quick lunch break. Speed is also why she added the “In and Out” to the name. I noticed that while speed is important to her staff, the customers didn’t seemed rushed and customer service was still in tact.
At the end of our interview, she offered me lunch. I chose the ‘Taco Tuesday’ special which came to be due to the customers’ request.
When my tacos arrived I was very impressed. They looked delicious and were presented so well I did not want to stop taking pictures. In fact, I delayed taking my first bite because I did not want to mess up how nice they looked.
With my first bite, I was sold. Immediately I thought, I should bring my kids here for dinner but then remembered I was at a quick-serve restaurant in a Rapid station.
In the end, the Windemere In and Out had all the things we look for when eating at a Black-Owned Restaurant. Vanisa told me that her 4 founding principles are, consistency, presentation, customer service, and taste/flavor. All of which was evident during my visit.
But what about safety? Although I never brought it up, Vanisca said that her space and the station are very safe. She added that since Windermere is one of the newer and larger RTA stations, they take great measures to ensure that riders are safe, including having the Transit police on site.
I cannot say enough about my visit to the Windemere In and Out. I will most definitely find ways and reasons to eat there again.
Windermere In and Out is open from 6 am too 6 pm Monday-Friday and on the 1st Saturday of each month.
Stay tuned for more on my interview with Vanisca on an upcoming episode of the Black girl in CLE podcast.