CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — A grocery store that’s been a fixture in Greater Cleveland for more than 80 years will soon be under new ownership.
Zagara’s Marketplace at 1940 Lee Road has been acquired by Cleveland-based Dave’s Market & Eatery, according to its website. The store is set to close on Friday, Oct. 21, and reopen on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“We thank all our customers for their loyal support of our business and are very happy the market we built over many years will continue to serve the community as a locally owned, family operated business,” reads a message on the website.
The store, which has been passed down two generations, was first opened in 1936 along Kinsman Avenue in Cleveland by Charlie Zagara, according to its website. Charlie handed the reins to his youngest son Frank in 1961.
The store moved to Cleveland Heights in 1988, then in 2002 moved a couple blocks over to its current Lee Road location near East Overlook Road.
Frank’s son John Zagara, who started working the store in his youth and took over as president in 1996, told FOX 8 he wonders whether the store’s success could have been duplicated elsewhere.
The Cleveland Heights community that supported the grocery for decades “focused their efforts and their dollars on independent businesses,” and that’s evidenced across the city’s locally owned venues like the Cedar Lee Theatre, its wine shops and floral shops, he said. The children of families whom Zagara’s once served are now shopping with their own children and families, John said.
“All of these different, really prized treasures are all possible because the city of Cleveland Heights residents put us first — not the big conglomerates, the big stores and the big operations,” he said.
John said he didn’t want to sell the store to a big-box grocer like Walmart or Trader Joe’s. He said he chose Dave’s to keep the store’s “neighborhood, family feel.”
“I’m bittersweet about ending, but I fear if I didn’t make this deal today, I wouldn’t see a deal like this — for maybe not ever,” John said.
The Bedford-based Dave’s Market & Eatery, founded in Cleveland in the late 1920s, has been family-owned for five generations and has 13 locations across northern Ohio.
The local chain is expected to move operations at its Cedar Road market to the former Zagara’s, just blocks away and will offer the same items “plus an expanded variety” on day one, including Grandpa Dave’s fried chicken, according to its website. It’s also planning “significant” renovations to décor, lighting and flooring and other enhancements next year.