Century old Bellaire family grocery business to transform to new operation

BELLAIRE — After a century of operation, the Frizzi Market in West Bellaire is being transformed into a new business — Around the World Gourmet Marketplace.

The traditional market and grocery business operated since 1919 by the Frizzi family is being downsized under new operations that will include a gluten-free food manufacturing and distribution business.

Deli operations will continue under the new management, catering to the local customers as in the past, with the larger retail space converted to the food manufacturing process. The family grocery business is currently operated by Dick and Kim Frizzi; it began 100 years ago in 1919.

Kocher Foods International Inc. doing business as Around the World Gourmet, is the specialty food manufacturer that is moving from Columbus to Bellaire. The owner, Jennifer Kocher, was born and raised in the Ohio Valley and graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1992. After graduating from Ohio State University with a business degree, she started her own food company in 2005 with a focus on specialty foods including gluten-free, organic, vegan and allergen-free products.

Kocher moved back to the Ohio Valley two years ago but could not find the right space to move her commercial bakery. Finally after two years, she was able to work with the Frizzi family from Bellaire to take over the Frizzi Market space. Kocher said she saw an opportunity to not only have a specialty food commercial bakery and manufacturing facility in the Ohio Valley, but also to continue a tradition established in Bellaire for 100 years. She estimates that 15 jobs will be continued and created during the next two to three years.

The back of the building will be dedicated to baking and producing Around the World Gourmet products and the front of the building will remain a market. The store will be named Around the World Gourmet Marketplace.

It will continue offering Frizzi’s Market items, including pepperoni rolls, deli meats, doughnuts, soups and sandwiches. In addition, there will be new items added to the menu such as specialty pizzas with globally inspired toppings and chicken wings with unique sauces, along with healthier options – gluten-free, allergen-free, vegan, grainless and low-carb items.

The store will also sell food produced in the new bakery as well as specialty baking ingredients such as organic and gluten-free flours. The store remained open during the month of December while renovations were being completed. A grand opening with the new food items is planned for sometime in January.

Kocher is president and CEO of Kocher Foods International Inc. and its brand Around the World Gourmet. She noted her parents, grandfather and two sisters still live in the Ohio Valley. She is married and has a 3-year-old son. She wanted to open her business in the Ohio Valley to be closer to her family.

She noted that people she has talked to are eager for organic, gluten-free and vegan foods in the region. She said the store’s employees are helping with the remodeling while it stays open for business.

Kocher said she started her business after her brother died.

“My brother, Joel Kocher, a veteran of the Gulf War, passed away a few years ago from pancreatic cancer. After his diagnosis, I began to buy as much of my foods organic as possible, trying to eliminate chemicals in our foods. With additional autoimmune disorders increasing all over the world and my mom being placed on a gluten-free diet this year, I know I’m on the right track by offering healthier-for-you foods for those who need and desire it. At the same time, our products at Around the World Gourmet taste delicious and can be eaten by everyone. I’m ecstatic to be able to bring our products to the Ohio Valley,” she said.

The store property is owned by the sons of Daniel Frizzi Sr. and Nancy Robinson Frizzi, who have worked to bring this new business and new use of the Frizzi Market building to the Bellaire community. The sons are Daniel Jr. with wife Penny, Richard and wife Kim, and Dean and wife Lisa of Bellaire; Douglas and wife Judy of Shadyside; and David and wife Jody of Lakeland, Florida.

Daniel Frizzi Jr. said the Frizzi family will continue to own the building and lease it to Kocher. He noted the change is a bittersweet one.

“It’s a proud family business that has been in Bellaire for 100 years. There is a sadness in that all of my brothers and I grew up in the store, both on Washington Street and in West Bellaire,” Dan Frizzi Jr. said.

“We learned to count change — that’s kind of a lost art today with kids,” Dan Frizzi Jr. said. “It’s the best training one could have, working in a family business. It teaches responsibility.”

His brother, Richard Frizzi, took over operating the store in 1992 when their father, Daniel Frizzi Sr., retired. Richard Frizzi agrees that working in the store as a child and young adult was a good life lesson.

“As far as Frizzi Market is concerned there are mixed emotions. It’s been a Frizzi-operated store in Bellaire for 100 years, that’s a big deal. However, we’re also excited for Jennifer. She’s going to bring a lot to the table and good ideas and be successful here,” Richard Frizzi said.

He noted that as a child he wasn’t always enthusiastic about having to work in the store; many times he would rather have been playing outside, he said. But in the end it served him well.

“We used to stock shelves when we were really younger, and later when we could count change we would run the register or whatever Dad needed us to do,” Richard Frizzi said. “It was a very good experience for me and all my brothers. It taught us the meaning of work.”

Richard Frizzi noted he couldn’t have kept the business going without the help of his wife, Kim.

“My wife was an integral part of this business,” he said.

He said he plans to stay on for about three months after Kocher takes over to help with the retail aspect of the business. But even though he is retiring, Richard Frizzi said he will have plenty to do.

“I’ll catch up on projects around the house, and I plan on traveling with my wife. I’m sure we’ll be babysitting the grandkids,” he added.

Frizzi Market History

On Dec. 3, 1910, two young Italian brothers arrived in New York City after leaving their native home in Piccione, a small town in the Italian province of Perugia, Italy. Artemio and Abramo Frizzi left behind family and friends to travel to America, hoping to enjoy prosperity and freedom across the Atlantic Ocean in the United States of America. Unable to speak English upon their arrival, they passed the Statue of Liberty and entered Ellis Island for processing with immigration authorities. Artemio was able to pass immediately; however, younger Abramo, 19 years of age, was held on Ellis Island due to an eye infection that prevented him from leaving with his older brother. After some days of separation, the brothers were reunited and they began their journey to Bellaire.

The brothers first worked in the coal mines of Eastern Ohio, then they traveled west to Colorado where they worked in silver and gold mining operations. They returned to Bellaire with their mining days behind them.

The brothers entered the grocery business, their first grocery store being located on Hamilton Street. Both brothers found young ladies who would accept their proposals of marriage. Artemio married Tilda Roman, who lived west of Klee on the road to Neffs, while Abramo met a young woman named Philomena DeSimone, who with her family resided on the west side of Hamilton Street opposite their store. Abramo and Philomena married on Nov. 2, 1919, and a joint decision of the young couples was to relocate the first grocery store to 3175 Union St. in the bustling business district of Bellaire. Artemio and Abramo opened their second store at this location under the name of Frizzi Brothers and moved into the upper stories of the building for their residences. This building still exists today and houses the well-known spaghetti house known as the Roosevelt Restaurant.

Artemio developed health problems due to his previous mining experiences, and he moved to California for better air quality than could be found in the heavily industrialized Ohio Valley. Abramo and Philomena, known as “Abe” and “Minnie” to Bellaire residents, decided to relocate the grocery business again to 2783 W. Washington St. on the road to Klee. Many Italian families lived in the Rose Hill section of Bellaire, and along Hamilton and Washington streets, and it was here that Abe and Minnie would build a new store and engage in the grocery business. They resided in the apartment above the grocery store where they raised two children, Daniel Frizzi, Sr. and his sister, Kathryn Frizzi. Well known to the Italian community for staples in Italian cuisine, romano cheese and olive oil were plentiful at this small store even during World War II when supplies were scarce.

After WWII, Daniel Frizzi Sr. returned home from the U.S. Navy to join his father in the grocery business, and the name was changed to Frizzi & Son. The store was a member of Associated Grocers based in Wheeling, and later, with the Tusco Associated Grocers in Urhichsville, Ohio. Father and son operated this store on Washington Street together until Abramo died in 1967 as he arose early one August morning to prepare for another day of work. His death left his son Daniel Sr. alone to run the business with his wife and five sons. Daniel Sr. continued the operation on Washington Street until a decision was made to build a new Frizzi Market to accommodate customer parking, an expanded butcher shop and retail store space. The move was made in 1970 to this fourth family store at its present location at 112 Second Ave. in West Bellaire. Daniel Sr. and his wife, Nancy Robinson Frizzi, together with their five sons ran this store until Dan Sr.’s retirement in 1992, when son Richard and his wife, Kim, took over the operation of Frizzi Market. They have continued to operate the market since that time.

Their tenure will end in 2019, marking 100 years of continuing grocery business operations begun by the Frizzi brothers, Artemio and Abramo Frizzi, in 1919, and continued under the Frizzi name.