b.a. Sweetie Candy Company

It may not be a restaurant, but it hits all the right notes when it comes to food and nostalgia. Cleveland’s candy superstore sells more than 4,500+ classic & contemporary items and has a soda and ice cream shop. b.a. Sweetie is the largest candy store in the country. The store itself is over 20,000 square foot stacked to the ceilings with over 400,000 pounds of candy. It also has a huge selection of novelty pop/sodas and sells Charles Chip potato chips in bags as well as the metal cans we used in Girl Scouts to make “sit-upons” forty years ago. The entrance is tucked around to the right side of the building. You walk in and are greeted with whimsical candy statues.

They have an entire aisle of soda cans and bottles, ranging from gross flavors like dirt, Buffalo wing, and Ranch dressing to Jolly Rancher soda and Squirt to fine soda like Italian cream soda, chocolate soda and gourmet root beers. I am partial to the Caruso sodas. You can mix and match or buy a case, a four-pack or single bottles. There is a cooler at the end with some chilled bottles for immediate gratification.

You can spend hours just roving the aisles, looking at all the various candies. They do a pretty good job grouping like things together. The Pez dispensers are displayed on a huge wall, the electronic lollipops are grouped together, as is the bulk candies in bags as well as bins so you can buy as little or as much as you like. All the Pop Rock flavors you can think of! Boxes of Hershey brand chocolate bars are against the far wall. Lindt, Godiva, Dove, Hershey, Ritter Sport, Milka – they are all represented. There is a huge display of Haribo gummie candies and another area just lined with bulk Jelly Bellies. It is an OCD candy lover’s dream.

Once you know where everything is, it is easy to pop in and just grab what you need. I hit it after Easter to get some Easter bunnies at 50% off as well as some bulk Frooties and fruit discs. I also grabbed a soda to quench my thirst on the drive home.

In addition to being an awesome candy store it also features Sweeties Soda Shop, where you can get ice cream and soda treats with just about every candy and soda flavor they sell. The soda shop features over 200 soda flavors, 36 ice cream flavors and lots of different toppings. Some of the toppings include Sweeties Signature Hot Fudge, Sweeties Signature Chocolate Syrup, Butterscotch, Peanut Butter, crushed pineapple, sugar-free chocolate syrup, caramel, marshmallow, Spanish peanuts, chopped nuts, Rainbow Sprinkles, Heath® Pieces, Butterfinger® Pieces, Reese’s Pieces®, crushed Oreo®, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups®, M&M’s® and Nerds®. They have a self-serve station with vanilla, chocolate or twist custard, vanilla yogurt or a flavor of the week. Lots of varieties of treats are available – including cones, sundaes, parfaits, “Syclones,” milkshakes, malts, soda pop floats, or signature sundaes. Some premium sundaes are made with Ghiradelli® chocolate. They even have the “spaghetti” ice cream that is so popular in Germany – vanilla ice cream, strawberry marinara sauce and shredded white chocolate cheese, but they also added chocolate meatballs to it. The kid’s menu has a couple other fun ice cream treats like an ice cream hot dog or a clown sundae. One even comes as a NASA treat with a parachute man toy.

I made a parfait when I stopped there with mini Reese’s pieces and butterscotch sauce. It was almost too sweet, and I couldn’t finish it. But I bet kids, who (let’s face it) have a huge sugar taste bud, would love every bite. No visit is complete without a quick stop at the soda shop.

If you want to work off the calories from your ice cream and candy treats, they also have a putt-putt golf course.

So stop into b.a. Sweetie candy shop, where you too can be a kid in a candy store and relive your childhood.

Contact info:

b.a. Sweetie Candy Shop / Soda Shoppe / Golfland Park
6770 Brookpark Road
Cleveland, OH 44129
(216) 739-2244

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Cleveland Bagel Company

The Cleveland Bagel Company got its start vending at The Cleveland Flea and farmer’s markets. I remember trying their bagels then. They bill their bagels as a “Cleveland-style bagel”- “Not too dough-y, not too sweet, Cleveland Bagel Co. bagels are smaller, full of flavor,  chewy, with a crisp exterior.” They graduated from owner Dan Herbst’s apartment to a spot in the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen then to space at Ohio City Pasta. After getting some funding from Cleveland Hustles, they opened their first brick and mortar store on Detroit Avenue. It was always a little too far for me and I am perfectly happy with Bialy’s Bagels, so I never made the trek. Well, they have now opened a shop on the East Side on Carnegie and E. 77th. They are open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day but Sunday, which means if I do get there I am usually strolling in between noon and 1. They get most of their business earlier in the morning from the Cleveland Clinic traffic. The location is going to be a hot one soon, with Fresh Fork Market’s plans to open a big facility there. Up to now the only draw there has been The Souper Market. There is a small parking lot across from E. 77th right next to the old Lancer Motel.

Sesame with brie honey walnut schmear

You can buy the bagels individually ($2) or buy a half-dozen ($8) or dozen ($14). There are seven varieties to choose from – plain, sea salt, everything, rosemary with sea salt, poppyseed, sesame seed, and cinnamon cranberry. The schmears are available in plain cream cheese, brie honey walnut, cheddar chive, thyme black peppercorn horseradish, chorizo chipotle, and a seasonal schmear. Bagel sandwiches are also available. The order gets sent to the kitchen for the sandwiches, while the regular bagel orders are toasted and schmeared behind the front counter. Single bagels are $2, while a bagel with a schmear is $4. They are generous with the schmear, which is a good thing. You can also get a toasted bagel with butter or peanut butter. There are also a few beverages to choose from – including brewed coffee, nitro coffee, bottled cold brew coffee, iced tea, orange juice, and sparkling water.

I decided to start out with your typical Classic Lox bagel ($9.50). With house-made lox, plain “schmear,” red onion and capers, it was a good rendition of a classic. I took it up a notch by adding the horseradish schmear instead of the plain cream cheese. It was good, but I recommend sticking to the plain because it doesn’t overpower the lox. The consistency of the bagel allows you to bite into it with minimal ooze of cream cheese out the sides. It was a solid choice.

Poppyseed with cheddar chive schmear

I love a good sesame seed bagel, so I paired the sesame seed bagel with their brie honey walnut schmear. Wow, that is a great flavor for a cream cheese. So much so that I bought a tub to use at home. I love a good brie, which is probably one of my favorite cheeses. Paired with honey and walnut it just takes the cream cheese spread up a notch. Definitely a favorite.

Cheddar chive is their best selling schmear, and I can see why. I paired it with a poppyseed bagel and it was a hugely popular photo on my Instagram. I liked it so much I ordered it again the other day. Definitely a tried and true go to for me.

Poppyseed with thyme black peppercorn horseradish schmear

This most recent visit also had me trying the thyme black peppercorn horseradish schmear. I paired it with the poppyseed bagel again, and it was once again a winner. I love horseradish. I took it apart and added a slice of Boar’s Head rare roast beef to each half for a very lovely lunch.

There is no seating. You can stand at the standing bar along the window to eat quickly or wait while they make your order. This tends to be a grab and go neighborhood, so that is fine with me. The Souper Market is also grab and go. I for one am happy the Cleveland Bagel Company is on the east side. I hope they can make a go of it here, because I like to support companies that value their employees enough to pay $15 an hour. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Contact info:

Cleveland Bagel Company
7501 Carnegie Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103

Rumi’s Market and Deli

I drive down Carnegie Avenue all the time, so I was curious about the metal and glass building that went up just down from the Cleveland Clinic at the E. 82nd Street intersection. One of my friends raved about her visit to the place on Facebook, so I knew I had to check it out. I’m glad I did. I’ve been a regular shopper ever IMAG0072since.

Rumi’s has a cafeteria-style deli that offers hot entrees, beef and chicken kebabs, sandwiches, a fresh salad bar and most intriguingly an olive bar. The choices the most recent time I was there included spaghetti with cheese and meat, fried chicken and a spicy Chinese stir fry. They also had several soups. The kebabs are on spits just like I am familiar with from Germany. The meat is roasted on the spit and shaved off when you order. They then heat it on the flat top grill, which I find a IMAG0073bit odd since it should be hot from the spit. But it isn’t dried out, so I am not going to question it.

Being a fan of kebabs, I have yet to venture far from that choice. They offer the kebab as a sandwich with pita or as an entree with 2 sides for $10.95. There are four different sides to choose from. My first time was extremely orange. I chose the mac n IMAG0074cheese and the saffron rice to go with the chicken kebab. The meat was tender and not dried out at all. The mac n cheese was a little bland, but it was certainly palatable. The rice was moist and delicious. They also offer Afghani Pulao (pilau), Indian Biryani, korma, rotisserie chicken with a pomegranate glaze, and lots of other choices. The restaurant is open from 10 to 2 on Sunday and Monday and 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

IMAG1587We wandered around the market, which had just opened, and were very pleased to see the variety of Turkish, Middle Eastern and Indian foods available. The shelves were much more stocked on my second visit, and I picked up a lot of fun things like pickled mango (chutney?), Mango Tang, mint tea, orange and cinnamon herbal tea, stuffed eggplant and stuffed pepper in a plastic, ready-to-eat tub, and some juices. Most intriguing was a Basil Seed Drink with White Grape flavor. It was really, really good. The IMAG1589texture of the basil seed reminded me of a really tiny bubble tea, and the white grape flavor was heavenly. I can see myself going back and buying lots of these next time. Now that the place has been open a while I keep an eye on the expiration dates, which sometimes have expired. I buy boxes of baklava, produce, frozen entrees and appetizers, and various teas here as well. I do chuckle when I notice the Aldi brand small appliances for sale.

IMAG1584On my second visit I tried the chicken kebab with the saffron rice and sauteed vegetables. The chicken kebab was even better than the beef kebab. The chicken kebab was moist and paired really well with bites of rice and veggies. I was most surprised by how much I loved the sauteed vegetables. I have never been a huge fan of celery, but the sauteed celery really dominated the mix and was quite flavorful. The other vegetables included broccoli, onion and yellow and red peppers. I really enjoyed it a lot, and felt like my meal was quite healthy (if you don’t count the Mountain Dew from the soda fountain).

My friends and I also met here for their Ramadan buffet last year. I have several friends who are Muslim, so I wanted to share their holiday with them. The buffet was very plentiful, and the food is weighed. It is open before sunset as well, so we got there a little earlier than sunset to avoid the crowd. We piled our plates with lots of good food, and much of it was quite spicy.

They serve American deli sandwiches, chicken, turkey, and burgers to IMAG0075cater to the Clinic crowd who don’t necessarily want Persian food, but want a quick and affordable lunch option. Their fried chicken also appears to be quite popular.

A word of warning: don’t think the red sauce on the salad bar is French dressing. It’s hot sauce. I smothered my beautiful salad with it, only to find it was too hot to eat. I ate around the sauce, but at around $5.40 a pound I was upset that I wasted a lot of it.

Contact info:

Rumi’s Market and Deli
8225 Carnegie Avenue
Cleveland OH 44103

Burton-Middlefield American Legion Pancake Breakfast

I like this pancake breakfast because they serve some delicious potatoes and they don’t limit the o.j. Most pancake breakfasts in Burton have closed up shop for the season, but this one is still going strong. They were serving from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next week is the last week until next year. I rolled up at 11:30, and the parking lot was pretty empty. Needless to say there was no line, but they advertise there is no waiting. They have seating upstairs for large groups.

I walked in and paid my $10 to the man at the cash table. He gave me a ticket, which I turned into the kitchen window in exchange for my choice of blueberry or regular pancakes, sausage patties, potatoes and scrambled egg. They were serving them out of metal serving platters.

I deposited my stuff at a table and went to collect some plasticware, coffee and orange juice. They have the coolest drip collectors on the coffee urns that they made from two-liter bottles. They have hot water, regular coffee and decaf coffee equipped with those bad boys. I think that is pretty ingenious.

The tables had paper placemats set and squeeze bottles of maple syrup that they regularly replaced. There were also small bottle of ketchup for those who like ketchup on their eggs or potatoes. A large catch-all table had a bottle of sugar-free syrup and a couple other alternatives like agave as well as butter for the pancakes.

I doctored up my coffee with cream and sugar at the table and then dug into the meal. I had chosen one regular and one blueberry pancake and two sausage patties. I enjoyed both of them, but preferred the blueberry pancake enough to get one more when I went to get a little bit more later. It was a little moister from the addition of the fresh and plentiful blueberries. The eggs were well cooked like I prefer them (if you like runny eggs you might be disappointed). There were a couple dollops of egg that were dried out and dark yellow, but I just didn’t eat them. The potatoes have an onion flavor to them that makes them unique. Round two was a blueberry pancake, a sausage patty and a scoop of potatoes and a second cup of orange juice. I barely finished round two.

I rolled out of there shortly after noon and had definitely hit my satiation limit. I drove home with the windows down and enjoyed the warm weather. What a difference a week makes. Last week the trees were covered in snow and I slept with my window open all night last night.

Next week they will be serving biscuits and sausage gravy (probably to get rid of all the extra sausage).

Contact info:

Burton-Middlefield American Legion
14052 Goodwin Street
Burton, OH 44021
(440) 834-8621

Gallucci’s Italian Foods

Gust Gallucci founded Gallucci’s Italian Foods in 1912 after he came to Cleveland in the early 1900’s and discovered a large Italian population who longed for products from their homeland. The store was originally run from a cart on the west side of Cleveland and changed locations several times until it found a home on Euclid Avenue and East 66th Street near downtown Cleveland in 1988. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 with a big centenary event, which included a dedication to the black granite monument you see at the front door. It is still family-owned and operated, now by the third and fourth generation of Galluccis.

Gallucci’s is the place to go when you are looking for specialty Italian canned foods and treats. When you walk in you see the cash registers to your left and the deli and refrigerated and freezer cases to your right. The cases are filled with cheeses, salami and assorted charcuterie, butter, all the fixings for homemade pizza including dough, sauce, crumbled sausage, pepperoni slices and shredded and shredded cheese. The freezers hold all kinds of frozen Gallucci pastas and seafood that you won’t find anywhere else as well as frozen soup, frozen meatballs (for wedding soup and for pasta dinners), and homemade gelato. The grocery aisles are filled with boxed pasta, canned tomatoes, jars of sauce, olive oils, canned sardines, boxed cookies, Italian coffee, tons of bulk spices, espresso makers, and a good selection of wine. They also have fresh pasta and their canned sauce for an easy and quick home-cooked meal. The store carries multiples of the same product at different prices, to appeal to a range of customers.

Their deli counter has all the specialties, whether it be prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, burrata, guanciale, braciole, olives or anything else you may need for an authentic recipe. One recent Yelper warns about their practice of switching out cheaper brands for their brand though, so keep an eye out.

The bakery counter is next to the deli counter against the right wall on the way to the Hot Lunch Counter. The bakery counter has all kinds of Italian cookies and cakes as well as a cooler full of prepared submarine sandwiches (you need to get here early because they run out). I have been known to stock up on prepared subs if a snow storm is predicted.

The olive bar is between the bakery counter and the cooler of sandwiches. You can get stuffed olives for $7.99 a pound, a mix of olives for $6.99 a pound and various other nibbles like pepperocini, giardiniera, etc.

You can also have a sub sandwich made to order at the Hot Lunch Counter against the back wall of the store. The Hot Lunch Counter is open from 11 to 2 one weekdays and offers a lot of prepared carry-out foods for a quick lunch, like their daily lunch specials, a “sangweech”of the day, Italian sausage and meatballs for subs, salads, hot pizza slices, calzones, paninis, and several different pasta specials (lasagna and pasta and meatballs are usually two of them). The pasta comes with choice of salad (tossed, potato or macaroni salad) and garlic bread. I just wish the containers didn’t leak. I damaged a library book when I accidentally pricked the styrofoam container and Italian dressing seeped out, and my shopping bag had a small island of sauce on the bottom when I got home today with my bow tie chicken pasta (see below). It had kind of congealed, so I know butter was in the sauce and it was delicious.

You can also get Gallucci’s amazing Italian wedding soup by the bowl or the quart. It contains lots of meatballs and escarole – as well as lots of flavor. Gallucci’s also offers a daily lunch special (“Coke Special”) during the week. You can get a sub sandwich, a 12 ounce pop and a bag of chips for $6.99. Make sure the sandwich looks fresh though. The last one I got was pretty dried out.

They offer frequent deals like Two Dollar Dog days during lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in honor of the Indians Home Opener on April 1st (and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke).

Did you also know that Gallucci’s offers hosted dinners with Chef Chuck Masterpaul? I didn’t know until I checked out their website. The next scheduled one is April 24th. The hosted dinners include exclusive access to the store, wine pairing and product suggestions, and consultations with Chef Masterpaul. The cost is $50 per person.

You can subscribe to their various email lists (including the daily lunch specials) here.

Contact info:

Gallucci’s Italian Foods
6610 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44103
(216) 881-0045

Burton Fire Station Pancake Breakfast

Another weekend in March, another pancake breakfast. I had originally scheduled Burton’s American Legion Pancake Breakfast for this weekend, but my friend who was going to join me is allergic to potatoes. I had also heard rave reviews of the fire station pancake breakfast from friends who went there last weekend instead of joining us at the omelet and pancake breakfast at the high school. So I decided to check out the fire station and do the American Legion one next weekend (the last one for the year).

We decided on a later meet time to avoid a long wait (my friends were in line for 40 minutes – just as we were). Between an arrival time of noon and a freak snow storm that dropped 3-5 inches Burton was decidedly emptier this weekend.

We found a parking space that was very close to the fire station – and most importantly there was absolutely no line whatsoever. We waited a few minutes on the ground floor for a third friend to join us and then headed up the stairs to the second floor. As we were waiting a woman came in asking if there was an elevator because her mother used a walker. The firemen replied there wasn’t, but they had a chair they could transport her in. They strapped her in and carried her up the stairs.

Since there was no line we were able to go straight to the cashier table and purchase our meal. The cost was $8 for all you can eat pancakes and sausage. Extra sausage and extra beverages (water or orange juice) were $1 each. I opted for extra sausage and an extra orange juice, so my meal cost me $10. Still a bargain. We grabbed our trays, a plate, and silverware and mosied up to the window of the kitchen for a stack of pancakes. When asked what kind I wanted I asked for one of each. Somehow that turned into four pancakes – too much for me. The sausage patties were also generous, so I really regretted buying an extra order. I took them home wrapped in a napkin. I was very happy I got a second orange juice though. What is up with the tiny containers of o.j.? They seem wasteful to me and only contain a bit of juice. I do like that they use real plates and real mugs for the meal – not styrofoam like most of the other fish fries or pancake breakfasts.

We easily found seats at a table next to the window, so we enjoyed watching the snowflakes fall outside while eating our pancakes and talking. Volunteers walked around with fresh pancakes and thermoses of coffee. The pancakes on the refill plates were fresher than the ones that had been sitting in the window. I have a feeling they had prepared for a crowd that didn’t materialize due to the weather. My favorite pancake out of the three was the blueberry pancake. The blueberries were plump and plentiful. The buckwheat pancakes were my second favorite. The regular ones were just too thick and dried out (most likely from sitting in the serving trays). We used lots of butter and maple syrup to soften them up.

We sat around talking for two hours. There wasn’t a rush for us to leave since there weren’t people clamoring for seats. My one friend bought a pint of maple syrup and some maple treats to take home with her. We headed back to Cleveland driving through the winter wonderland. It was a great way to start the day. As I said, we are planning on attending the American Legion breakfast next weekend, which is the very last one for the year in Burton.

Contact info:

Burton Volunteer Fire Station
13828 Spring Street
Burton, OH 44021

Fish Fry Friday #4: Benedictine High School

I have a new rule to live by: if a fish fry is run by boys stay far away.

Benedictine High School is a private, Roman Catholic, college preparatory high school for men, located in Cleveland off Martin Luther King Boulevard. The school serves grades 9–12 and has an enrollment of just under 400 young men.

I don’t even know where to start with this disaster. OK, driving in. Apart from a sign on the road there is no indication which outbuilding houses the fish fry. I had to ask a bunch of young men who explained it was in the cafeteria, but don’t ask me where that was. I drove toward a building that said Field House and asked someone else and he explained I could park and walk under the walkway and it would be on the right. Luckily the weather was nice and the door was propped open or I wouldn’t have had a clue which door to go in. Some signage with arrows would be very helpful. Or even just someone standing in the parking lot directing people where to go. But the fish fry wasn’t all that well-attended, so that might be overkill. I should have caught the clue then.

Once I walked into the cafeteria I had to figure out what was going on. The big sign on the wall was apparently from lunch. I missed the silverware, cafeteria trays and napkins, so if you go know that it’s against the wall to your right. There were four dinners to choose from. The signs taped to a table informed me that I could have a two pieces of fried fish, one piece of baked fish, nine pieces of shrimp or eight pierogi. The dinners come with baked potato or french fries, cole slaw or applesauce, bread (grab a piece from the open bags of wheat or white bread sitting there), and coffee, tea or milk. Side orders were available for $2.50 or $3.50 depending on what you wanted. Pop was $0.50 a can. Dessert was available at a bake sale off to the side of the cafeteria. I spent $14 for my meal, sides and two cans of pop.

I was there at around 5:30 and was informed they were out of fish and it would be about 2 minutes. As I stood there they plated up a side of pierogi and a bowl of chowder and stack of crackers for me. I grabbed some condiments and my slice of bread and a pat of butter and waited. When the fish came out they started serving the people who had just walked in until one of the older men supervising noticed and had them serve me. Some of the fish had broken apart and the young man tried to give me a couple pieces parts until I pointed out to the supervisor that there were supposed to be two pieces. Awkward.

Once I paid, bought my pop and sat down I opened up the to-go box (which I requested because I knew I wouldn’t finish) and was just overwhelmed by the food service of it all. I thought I’d have a couple pierogi and chowder with a few bites of fish and pack up the rest. The chowder was the blandest, worst chowder I’ve ever had, so I popped the lid back on and will be doctoring it up tomorrow for lunch. Nothing a little dill and seasoned salt can’t fix. The pierogi did not look appetizing at all, but they weren’t as dry as they look. That was the best part of the meal. The fish was okay. It could have been moister, but it was at least edible. The cole slaw was okay. I chose the baked potato since it is easier to warm up as leftovers, although this isn’t a meal I am looking forward to eating again.

When I left at six o’clock they had run out of individual sour cream packets and had a pint of sour cream and a spoon sitting on the table with the condiments.

If you ever find yourself at this fish fry (but I wouldn’t recommend it), do yourself and order the grilled cheese. It seemed like the most popular choice.

Contact info:

Benedictine High School
2900 Martin Luther King Jr Drive
Cleveland, OH 44104