Monday, March 31, 2008

Snow Falling On Fazio's

An early 1971 view of a brand new suburban Cleveland Fazio’s supermarket. This store opened six years after the Fazio and Costa families had bought out the moribund Fisher Foods chain, which was at one time the dominant food chain in the area but by the early sixties had fallen on hard times. By the time the pictured store opened, the company (which still went by the official name of Fisher Foods) was well on their way back to the top.

This store, with its mansard shakeroof design, was typical of new Fazio’s stores of the 60’s and 70’s.


  1. Fazio's had stores in Southern California that were later bought by Albertsons. Two of these in my area were in Monterey Park (Albertsons until the late 90's when the entire center was torn down - today a Ralph sits on the site) and Alhambra (became Albertsons, then Grocery Warehouse, then Max Foods, and now the only Lucky store in the LA Area).

  2. It sort of resembles this Family Dollar in Cleveland I found a pic of through Groceteria's message board:

    I wonder if that was an old Fazio's. I love the 70s Mansard. Too many good mansard memories. LOL!

  3. Jeff - I've got a couple pics of the CaliFazio's that I plan to post soon. Interesting about the one ex-Fazio Lucky in the LA area. Hopefully they'll open more Luckies in Southern California. Thanks!

    Didi - I looked at it, and don't really think it's an ex-Fazio's, though I could be wrong.

    The Fazio's were flat-roofed with only the portion above the entrances featuring the mansard roof. The Family Dollar looks like it is much smaller and older than the Fazio stores, with a mansard canopy that was added later on.

    We'll make mansard fans out of these folks yet!

  4. Mansard roofs were very popular with retailers, esp. grocers, in the late 60s and most of the 70s. Fazio used them extensively and this store could be any number of different locations. My guess: Wilson Mills Road in Highland Heights. The store now operates as an independent. Another possibilities: Andrews Road in Mentor on the Lake.

    The Fazio's began with a mom & pop store on Lee Road and Meadowbrook in Cleveland Heights. That store lasted into the early 70s, and began in the 20s or 30s. Fazio's under sons, Carl & John, built several more stores in the early 50s, including Lee Rd & Harvard Ave in SE Cleveland, Warren Village on the west side of Cleveland and a shortlived, very large store on Northfield Road in Bedford. They joined the Stop-n-Shop co-op later in the 50s and added several new stores (Pearl Road in Parma Heights, Cedar & Green in South Euclid) and acquired a former Supervalu in Euclid on Lake Shore Blvd. The Pearl Road store had many of the architectural touches that were used in future Fazio stores and included their large in-store "wine shop". In late 1965, the Fazio Brothers organized a syndicate that took over Fisher Foods through a pooling of stock and a cash acqusition of their parents' store on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. The group included the two Fazio brothers, Sam Costs (who had one store in the Stop-n-Shop co-op) and Kravitz, who had been part of Foodtown (Cleveland's big post-WWII grocery chain and one which started as a supermarket chain--later owned by Allied Supermarkets and then sold to the parent of the local Pick-n-Pay chain).

    Fisher had recently lost its crown as the No. 1 grocery chain and ran quality-oriented stores that were quick to take on innovations, like instore delis (Fazio had delis and their's had bigger selections than Fisher's); however, Fisher had no house brand, was considered higher priced, and was late to trading stamps. Fisher also had many small stores, as well as stores that were much larger than the norm. Overall, an odd inventory and an image that couldn't hold up to strong independents or the other big local chain, Pick-n-Pay. Fazio sold the small stores, plus some overlapping locations, attracted capital, and rebuilt the chain. It and Pick-n-Pay were the dominant retailers for many years afterward, although the Stop-n-Shop coop was a serious competitor, too. Once Fisher was back on its feet, Fazio bought Dominick's in Chicago, Kantor's in Cincinnati (which operated leased departments in discount stores) and Shopping Bag in L.A. The latter as the beginning of their undoing, in many respects. Ultimately, the largest Stop-n-Shop owners bought out out the Fazio interests.

  5. Wow, thanks for the fantastic background on the chain (makes my task on the upcoming posts easier!)and the educated guesses on the location of the store in the picture.

    My family shopped regularly during my growing up years at Dominick's when they were owned by Fisher/Fazio, and were always impressed by the quality of the stores.

  6. Yea, I knew it didn't look exactly like the same style and I thought that if it was a former Fazio's someone would have pointed it out already. I did think it looked like a former grocery store though.

    Dominick's was never called Fazio's here, right? I was never completely sure.

  7. Dominick's was never called Fazio's and the founding Dimatteo family remained involved in management. They did use The same "Heritage House" housebrand and continued to use it (with a Dominick's logo after they bought the chain back from the Fazios.

    The Fazio brothers had a numbers of falling outs--one with long-time partner Sam Costa and around the same time with the DiMatteos. That was a round the beginning of the chains's decline in Cleveland.

    I forgot to mention Kravitz' first name was Julie. He left Fisher and helped revive the Pick-n-Pay chain the mid 70s before an untimely death in a robbery. Although Pick-n-Pay had remained a strong competitor, it had begun to lose market share because of problems at its parent, Cook United. They sold it to a group of investors that included Kravitz and Richard Bolgomolny, whose family's Eagle Ice Cream company was a supplier to Fisher-Fazio and probably partly owned by them.

    An uncle of mine was John Fazio's long-time neighbor. I used to know Bolgomolny's brother, who is a lawyer and now a university president. It's a small world.

  8. Didi - It could well have been a grocery store, but if so the building probably predates the mansard Fazios. I know of an early 50's Kroger that has been a Family Dollar for years.

    Traveler - Thanks again. We had a brief discussion about Julie Kravitz on an earlier post(about a completely different subject). That truly was a tragic story.

    I remember the Heritage House products very well from my childhood and can even remember the "Fisher Foods" pediment logo on the products. I certainly didn't realize at the time that they were no longer locally owned, and suspect that many Chicagoans were unaware of that as well. Dominick DiMatteo Jr. still ran the company under Fisher and his dad, Dominick Sr. was a major philanthropic figure in Chicago through the seventies.

  9. Didn't Heritage House remain a Dominick's house brand through Yucaipa ownership, until Safeway ownership? I seem to recall it was one of the brands that Safeway Select replaced. I believe Dominick's returned to local ownership shortly after acquiring many of the Kroger locations as the chain left Chicagoland.

    Also, didn't Fazio's get into the deep discount drug store operation during the 1970's. I seem to recall Carl's being under their ownership at one time and a contributor to Fisher/Fazio's decline.

    On another Fazio's topic, wasn't Shopping Bag the supermarket chain that had been acquired by Von's, but the FTC ruled that it would concentrate market share, and ordered it reversed? It seems the Fazio's entry into Southern California was later than the Von's/Shopping Bag merger, closer to A&P leaving the Southland around 1969.

  10. I left the Chicago area in 1987, and though I've spent a lot of time there since, I don't remember when Heritage House brands disappeared from Dominick's. Maybe someone else can help us with that.

    Dominick's returned to local ownership (the DiMatteo family) around 1980, ten years after they bought out the Chicago Kroger stores.

    Fazio's did own Carl's, and to best of my knowledge, your description of the Vons/Shopping Bag/A&P/Supreme Court timeline is correct.

  11. The Fazio's on Wilson Mills Road in Highland Heights became Catalano's Stop and Shop (which was re-branded as a Giant Eagle for about a year and a half) before becoming an independent Stop and Shop again. It closed sometime in 2007 with the business diverted to the former Tops/Giant Eagle on Mayfield Road (near Golden Gate) and the former Tops/Zagara's (another local chain) near Richmond Mall/Town Centre.

  12. LOL Thanks Traveler on the history-- fairly on the nose for the most part.

    For my 30th birthday, my Grandfather John Fazio Sr. gave me an old Heritage House bottle of Vodka. Seemed like any product could brandish the Heritage House label!

  13. I am wondering about the location of a Fazio's in the Akron, Ohio area in the 80's. I thought I knew for sure exactly where my mother shopped with us but I am getting quite a bit of argument! Where can I find a listing of Fazio's locations in the area from the 80's?