Fans of Showcase Meats no longer have to tread off the beaten track to get the shop’s popular pressure-fried chicken, fresh-cut meats, deli items and more.
Since its beginning 48 years ago, Showcase was in space built onto a house and tucked away in a residential area of Akron's Kenmore area. Starting as a corner butcher shop, it has long attracted folks from outside the neighborhood.
This week, Showcase officially opens in its new, much larger location on well-traveled Manchester Road.
“This is a lot bigger — and brighter,” said longtime customer Scott Christoff, looking around the renovated former day-care center at 2355 Manchester Road, during the soft opening last week.
“It looks like a store more than a …” he added, searching for the right word to describe the former location.
“More than a garage,” co-manager Renee Campbell said, finishing his sentence.
“The modern farmhouse look is what we were going for,” co-manager Robin Blaurock, sister of Renee Campbell, said, pointing out interior touches such as the white interior walls and wide unpainted wood trim.
The exterior brick has been painted white, and the gable over the entrance now boasts unpainted wood.
“Just about every aspect of the new store is pretty much double” in size in the new space, Blaurock said.
That includes the baked-goods cases, the cooking area and the spot where customers order and pick up chicken, pizza and other prepared foods. Beginning with the grand opening Friday, a chicken and waffles dinner will be on the menu.
The new location brings a boost to the working-class Kenmore area.
Last week, longtime customers Don and Sue Holler, who are retired, walked to the store from their home a few blocks away. They picked up six pieces of chicken, along with 5 pounds of ground chuck.
“The best thing of all is they’re staying right here in Kenmore where people already love them,” said Sue Holler.
A plus is, she said, is that Showcase is in a spot where more people outside the area can discover it.
The father of the sisters, Allen Perry, founded Showcase in 1971, opening it where another neighborhood shop had been.
The chicken came sometime after, said his wife, Faye, who helped her husband run the place. She recalled she wanted to add chicken to the catering menu.
The old store had almost no parking. Customers frequently lamented how far away they would have to park, especially on Sundays when patrons would line up to get chicken for Browns football-watching parties.
Allen Perry still visits the store, occasionally cutting meat, his daughters said.
With a bigger location, the sisters have greatly expanded the number of jarred and packaged items — including adding Troyer-branded items such as trail bologna, kielbasa and beef sticks.
The sisters said they spent hours at a food show, tasting items, to come up with new items they thought Showcase customers might like.
“We were after comfort food,” along with specialty items, Campbell said.
“High Road ice cream (with a high butterfat content), corned beef hash, quiche …” Blaurock said, pointing out items in a freezer case on one wall.
There’s also waffles available in the freezer.
“You can’t find these in the [big] grocery stores,” Campbell said, pointing to many barbecue sauces in a condiment section on one wall, well positioned near the fresh meats.
There’s also an array of salad dressings and marinades, such as Terrapin Ridge Farms’ cilantro lime ranch and Teta Foods' Mediterranean Fattoush. A small display features Amish Wedding brand jams and other jarred goods.
Even the catering menu has been expanded; new items include a sausage, peppers and onion tray featuring house-made sausage links and boxed eats (hot or cold) for business lunches and other gatherings.
The sisters haven’t crowded the space in the 3,000–square-foot building, giving the place a much more airy feel than the old location.
The space is still small enough that nothing is far from the front entrance. The meat case is on the rear wall opposite the entrance, as is the deli counter and warming display.
The counter where customers order chicken and other hot food is just to the right as customers walk in. A new digital menu board hangs overhead.
Anthony Stanford, who cooks at an Akron area eatery, stopped by last week to pick up a chicken dinner — one of many he's had from Showcase.
"It's the pressure cooking," that keeps him coming back, he said. "The seasonings."
Showcase is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
The phone is 330-753-4219; Showcase has a Facebook page.
Merchant plans distillery
Anthony Piscazzi, owner of the Merchant Tavern in Akron's Merriman Valley, hopes by sometime early next year to fulfill a spirituous dream: establishing a distillery.
He's thought about putting one at the Merchant since the restaurant opened six years ago.
The plan is to put the distillery in a portion of the old main dining room — off the room that houses the place's big bar. The room would still house some seating. He's applied for the required state license. Construction is to begin after architectural and engineering work is complete.
Piscazzi is drawing on some family history.
His great-grandfather Roxy Piscazzi was a bootlegger of some renown in Akron during Prohibition.
A lot of his interest in distilling, he said, "has to do with hearing these stories" about his great-grandfather.
Piscazzi said the plan is to have the distillery up and running by the end of this year. However, he said it may not be in operation until early next year.
Whiskey and other liquor made at the Merchant would be incorporated into the restaurant's specialty drink menu. The restaurant would continue to offer national brands, as well as liquor made by other Ohio distilleries.
The Merchant is at 1824 Merriman Road. The phone is 330-865-9510. Hours are 3:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 3:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday, noon to 1:30 a.m. Saturday and 3:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Brewery Tour/Steak Dinner
Here's a special deal for dads who like beer and steak.
Royal Docks Brewing Co. of Jackson Township is hosting a Father's Day Brewery Tour and Steak Dinner at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday - Father's Day.
The event will include a guided tour of the Brewhouse and Cannery, along with a token for a pint at the Taproom and Kitchen, and the option for a rib-eye steak dinner.
Tickets are $40 for the tour and dinner, or $25 for the tour only. For more details or to buy tickets, go to https://bit.ly/2MCYYM0.
The brewery is at 5646 Wales Avenue NW. The phone is 330-353-9103.
• Sarah's Vineyard in Cuyahoga Falls will host its 17th annual Summer Solstice Festival at the vineyard June 21-23.
The event at the vineyard at 1204 W. Steels Corners Road, across from Blossom Music Center, features Sarah's wine, along with food, music and crafts. Hours are 4-10:30 p.m. June 21, noon to 10:30 p.m. June 22 and noon to 6 p.m. June 23.
Daily admission is $15 and includes wine tasting tickets and a commemorative wine glass; parking is free. This is a cash-only event. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
Go to www.sarahsvineyardwinery.com/solstice for more information. The phone is 330-929-8057.
• The Polish American Citizen's Club of Akron will turn again into a mystery dinner theater June 29.
The Polish Mystery Dinner Theater will feature a Western-theme murder and a menu including cowboy beef stew, Mexican cowboy layer salad, sweet potato mash and more. The murder mystery is dubbed Murder at the Black Diamond Saloon.
Tickets for food and the mystery run $18. A cash bar will be available; no credit cards.
Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the club, at 472 E. Glenwood Ave. (entrance off Dan Street) any weeknight.
Staff writer Rick Armon contributed to this column. Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.