Cleveland, OH

Two Tremont markets fade in a rite of passage

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Tremont doesn't have a grocery store but it does have tiny neighborhood markets. And two are about to fade into history.KJP

Abbey and Fairfield markets, going and gone

If left unattended for one growing season, the vines would surely swallow up the Fairfield Food Market in Tremont. The dive is a reminder of Tremont’s working-class era as well as the years before gentrification began to take hold at the start of the 21st century. But gentrification swallowed up the market before the vines could.

Tremont doesn’t have a grocery store but it does have tiny neighborhood markets. And two gritty members of that shrinking fraternity are about to fade into history.

The demise of the Fairfield Food Market and the Abbey Market & Grocery are a rite of passage as Tremont continues its transition from a rough and tough neighborhood of Eastern European, African-American and Appalachian people who worked in the nearby mills and other Cleveland industries. Replacing them in the last few decades are a wide and gentrifying mix of young professionals, service workers and others who live in new or renovated townhomes and apartments.

In September, Southside Holdings LLC acquired the Fairfield Food Market, 1027 Fairfield Ave., from Maher K. Hammas for $75,000, according to Cuyahoga County records. The store was closed upon its sale. Southside Holdings, owner of neighboring The South Side restaurant, 2207 W. 11th St., has owned all the properties surrounding the market since 2008.

On Nov. 9, Southside Holdings applied to the city’s Building & Housing Department for a demolition permit to take down the 1,435-square-foot store.

Fairfield Food Market was from another era of Tremont. It had iron bars on the windows outside and smelled of cat urine on the inside. Passersby could use the ATM, buy a pack of smokes, lottery tickets, beer, soda pop, snacks and a limited selection of foods while petting an affectionate store cat named Socks. The owner often worked the counter or sat on the front stoop. He was considered by many to be friendly.

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