A grocery customer who uses a walking cane was the father of invention for a cane holder now available at all 15 Acme Fresh Markets.

The customer, who does not want to be identified, uses a motorized cart while shopping, placing his cane in the cart’s basket.

“He was concerned that germs [on the bottom of the canes] came into contact with food items,” said Doug Flinn, the store director of Acme at 2630 Bailey Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

Also, the customer noted that cane users sometimes forget their canes, leaving them in the baskets. Flinn said he was well aware of that problem. “We’d have five to 10 canes here,” at any given time, said Flinn, a 40-year employee of the Acme chain.

Last year, the customer showed up at the Bailey Road store with a simple device to store canes inside the cart, while also making them more visible: a cane holder, made with a length of PVC pipe.

Flinn, intrigued, allowed the customer to attach holders to four of the motorized carts, using sturdy plastic ties. Sometime later, Acme President Steve Albrecht was visiting the store, and Flinn pointed out the cane holders.

Albrecht ran with the idea. He brokered a licensing deal with the customer to allow Acme workers to make holders for the dozens of motorized carts in the chain.

“They’re so popular,” said Katie Swartz, Acme’s director of marketing. The holder “truly did respond to a need.”

Muggswigz perks plaudits

Of all the coffee shops in Ohio, one in Canton got named to a list of the country’s best.

Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co., 137 Walnut Ave. NE in downtown Canton, is the only Ohio java joint to make USA Today’s list of 10 best coffeehouses across the United States.

Muggswigz (think mug and swigs) is “very community focused” and wants “to do high-quality coffee in a place where you wouldn’t expect to find it,” said industry expert Chris Deferio in the online USA Today article.

Canton native Alexander Haas opened Muggswigz 11 years ago, when he was just 24. He thinks he made the list partly because the place roasts all of its coffee and is ultra-fussy about the quality of its beans.

Muggswigz, which also has a shop at 5854 Fulton Drive NW in Jackson Township and offers beans wholesale, sells “single origin coffee” — coffee grown within a specific region — as well as blends.

“All of the coffees that we sell [full-price] are less than 10 days out of the roaster,” Haas said. “On the eleventh day, we’ll discount it by half.”

Haas said his employees make a big difference.

“A lot of [making the USA Today list] has to do with the skill of our baristas.” Employee training is a big focus, Haas said, noting his workers “are paid significantly more than most Starbucks baristas.”

David Heilbrunn, who runs the Coffee Fest trade show, joined Deferio in brewing up the USA Today list. Last year, Muggswigz was third-place winner at an America’s Best Coffeehouses contest, which involves teams competing at the Coffee Fest show.

So what’s Haas doing in this bean business anyway? He graduated with a degree in psychology and molecular genetics from the University of Rochester in New York.

Haas said he’s long been a coffee fan and the idea of opening a shop “just kind of kept growing on me” after a friend brought it up.

“The more you learn about coffee, the more you learn what you don’t know. … You really develop a passion for it, and it makes you want to learn more.”

Farmers markets set

An indoor farmers market will be spread across two downtown Akron locations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 5 as the Countryside Conservancy celebrates the 10th anniversary of its markets.

Vendors will set up at the Akron-Summit County Public Library at 60 S. High St., and at the Akron Art Museum, 1 S. High St.

The celebration will include birthday cake and various activities. Planning is ongoing and more information will be available at www.cvcountryside.org. Countryside promotes local farms, offers educational programs and manages farmers markets.

The winter Countryside Farmers’ Market continues at Old Trail School, 2315 Ira Road in Bath Township, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 22 and April 19.

And in May, Countryside’s markets move outdoors.

The Howe Meadow market will run from 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday from May 10 through Oct. 25. The meadow, part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is at 4040 Riverview Road, Cuyahoga Falls.

The weeknight farmers market will return to Highland Square — at Conger Avenue and West Market Street — on May 29. This market will run from 4 to 7 p.m. each Thursday through Oct. 2.

Buehler’s wins award

Buehler’s Fresh Foods has won the 2014 Retailer of the Year Award from the Cleveland Food Dealers Association. Buehler’s Fresh Foods, a grocery chain founded in New Philadelphia in 1929, now has 14 stores. Its newest store is the converted former Portage Lakes IGA at 4045 S. Main St. in Green. Acme Fresh Market of Akron won the Cleveland Food Dealers Association award last year.

Dinner in the Valley

Rome will come to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for the March 26 Dinner in the Valley. The event, organized by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, will begin at 6 p.m. at Happy Days Lodge, 500 W. Streetsboro Road, Peninsula. Chef Larkin Rogers’ menu includes antipasti platters, Roman lamb with juniper, and sliced potatoes baked with thyme and garlic.

For reservations, call 330-657-2909, ext. 119, or go to www.conservancyforcvnp.org. Cost is $35 for nonmembers, $32 for members of the Conservancy, and $10 for children ages 5 to 12.

St. Patrick’s Day events

Here are just a few local places celebrating St. Patrick’s Day:

Kirbie’s Family Meats and Catering, 4062 Fishcreek Road, Stow, is again curing corned beef briskets in house. Complete corned beef dinners will be available, along with Reuben sandwiches Friday, Saturday and Monday — St. Patrick’s Day. The shop also is offering raw corned beef with cooking instructions.

Hudson’s Restaurant, at 80 N. Main St., Hudson, and 3900 Medina Road, Copley Township, will feature a menu of Irish favorites Saturday though Monday, including corned beef and cabbage, Irish beef stew wrapped in boxty (a traditional Irish potato pancake), Reuben sandwiches and St. Patrick’s Day drinks.

Brubaker’s Pub, 357 S. Main St., downtown Akron, will be open for breakfast 8 a.m. until noon Saturday for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Akron. The parade will step off at noon on Main and Exchange and end on Bowery Street.

Corned beef sandwiches will be available from noon until close. Irish dancers are to perform at 11 a.m. On Monday, the pub will open for breakfast even earlier — at 5:30 a.m. Breakfast will run until 11 a.m., with other menu items available until closing.

Tangier, 532 W. Market St., Akron, will offer an Irish Buffet from 3 to 8 p.m. Starting at 6:30 p.m., 10-piece retro funk band Get On Up will play.

Legends Sports Pub and Grille, 1840 Town Park Boulevard, Green, says its keg will turn green at 11 a.m., and will offer corned beef sandwiches and platters. Irish dancers will perform.

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.