Since many fond memories revolve around food, today’s Beaver County Memories segment is sure to be a good one. Today we take a look at the places where we bought our food in Beaver County, the grocery stores. Beaver County Memories is brought to you by St. Barnabas.
Ask almost anybody in Beaver County to name their favorite grocery store of years gone by, and a very common response will be C and L Supermarket in Aliquippa. Owned and operated by Chuck and Lou Borsani, C and L truly was “super” among markets of the day. The store was located at the corner of Brodhead Road and Main street, next to St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa and was, by the standards of the day, “huge”. It had a large selection with many different departments, several check out lanes and even off street parking in a lot on the other side of the street. The Borsani brothers began running a small market in the plan 12 section of Aliquippa in 1943 and eventually moved out to the corner on Brodhead road some time later. The Borsani brothers were aggressive marketers, too. Their weekly “double truck”, or two full page display ads side by side, in the Beaver County Times, became a standard for housewives to seek out as they were planning their grocery lists. C & L Supermarket also sponsored many programs on WBVP and WMBA radio including high school sports and the annual Orthodox Christmas midnight service broadcast every year in January. C & L Supermarket closed in 1988. A new smaller plaza with several shops exists on the site now.
Another prominent Beaver County family, The Ondruseks, had forged their way into the grocery business as early as the 1920’s with a store in Beaver Falls called Economy Foods. By the 1950’s the Ondruseks had opened up another store at the corner of 5th Avenue and Ninth Street in New Brighton. Soon, several other locations would be added throughout Beaver County and about that point in time, The Ondruseks began to refer to their stores as Economy Supermarkets. A unique distinction held by Economy Supermarkets is that they were one of the first advertisers on WBVP, when the station first started broadcasting in May of 1948. In the early eighties, Economy Supermarkets became part of the Foodland distribution and branding system while still owned and operated by Tony Ondrusek. At one point in time, there were nearly a dozen Foodland Supermarkets located throughout Beaver County. Today, the sole remaining Beaver County Foodland location, the New Brighton store, still thrives in a newer location that is one block north on 5th avenue from the original market and is now owned an operated by Mike and Ron Fischer. Among other popular Economy/Foodland locations to have appeared in Beaver County, was one that was opened in The Tusca Plaza in Brighton Township in the 1960’s. That location suffered the demise of an eight alarm fire in 1998, but was rebuilt shortly thereafter. In 2010, The Tusca Plaza grocery store became a Shop N Save supermarket, operated by Joe Spagnolo. The store closed again in twenty sixteen, but was given new life with an ongoing upgrade and is in the process of being remodeled and is opening again soon again as a Shop N Save, owned by St. Barnabas and operated by the Safran Family.
In Beaver Falls, one could not mistake the look and feel of the City Market. Big by comparison to the corner store, but tiny by nowaday supermarket standards. City Market was located at the corner of 7th Avenue and 15th Street in a building that recently housed a dollar store. City Market had classic wooden floors that would creak as one walked back through the aisles to the rear of the store where the deli was located. The store was operated by the Crognale family and closed in the mid eighties.
The aforementioned Safran Family also operates Shop N’ Save Supermarkets in East Rochester and Ambridge, but before those stores came to be, They ran several smaller markets in the Ambridge area dating back to the mid century, including Safran’s Market in Fair Oaks. Later on, Stan and Lou Safran opened Safran’s Market on Church Street In Ambridge. In 1960, Robert Safran opened Pic ‘N Save Market in the 2700 block of Duss Avenue in Ambridge where Harmony Beer Mart is currently located . For a brief period of time in the eighties, the Safran Family also owned and operated Safran’s Inn, located right next to Pic N’ Save in the former Duss Avenue Eat ‘N Park, leading to the perfect set up to host car cruises that would attract thousands of car enthusiasts back in that era. The two buildings were close enough together to string large banners across the span between them and make for a perfect entrance into a cruise lane that circled around the restaurant and then emptied back out onto Duss Avenue. In the mid nineties, Robert Safran’s son, Phil, took the family owned supermarket two blocks south and reopened a vacant Loblaws store as Jubilee Foods. In 2002, Jubilee Foods went back to the popular Pic ‘N Save name that had been a standard in town for decades. Finally, the store underwent extensive renovations and re emerged in 2008 as The Ambridge Shop N’ Save that continues to exist today. In 2010, Phil and his son, Jarrett Safran, acquired the East Rochester Shop N’ Save and continue to own and operate that store.
Any segment about grocery stores in Beaver County can’t be complete without including Bill Camp. Camp started a chain small convenience stores called Fast and Friendly in Beaver Falls in the 1960’s that eventually were located throughout Beaver County. In the 1970’s he bought a full service independent grocery store in Beaver called Value King, which is still in business on 3rd Avenue, known as Beaver Supermarket. In the early eighties, Camp bought a Giant Eagle Supermarket located in Center Township in the Gee Bee Plaza, where Wal Mart is located today. In the next decade, Bill Camp would do alot to change the grocery shopping habits of Beaver County residents, first opening the Rochester Giant Eagle and later on building a brand new Giant Eagle store in Chippewa in the nineties. Camp sold his grocery empire and retired in the early 2000’s, but his legacy lives on as the Rochester and Chippewa Giant Eagle stores are still very prominent shopping locations, now owned and operated by Giant Eagle, Inc.
Other notable grocery stores that once dotted the landscape in and around Beaver County include The Penn Supermarket on Pennsylvania Avenue in Monaca. The Skyline Supermarket in Patterson Township, McCarter’s Supermarket in Darlington, Center and Chippewa Golden Dawn Markets, Midland I.G.A., Northern Lights Kroger, Pavlovic’s Market in Koppel, Yannsen’s Market in New Galilee, Eddie’s Market in Rochester, Comet Food Warehouse in Big Beaver, A & P Supermarkets in Rochester, Aliquippa and Beaver Falls, Foodliner in Ellwood City and a Super Duper in Zelienople, among others.
With that, it’s time to hit the check out line and bag up this edition of Beaver County Memories brought to you by St. Barnabas. Do you prefer paper or plastic? Tune in every day for another edition of Beaver County memories on Beaver County Radio. Complete transcripts of this and other editions of Beaver County Memories can be found at beavercountyradio.com.