Monday, May 21, 2001

Longtime grocers are returning downtown

Familiar family to open store at Fourth and Plum

By John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Silverglade family, grocers known for selling fine meats and fresh foods at Findlay Market since 1922, plans a downtown Cincinnati homecoming in August.

        That's when the family intends to open a market at Fourth and Plum streets in space now occupied by the 4th & Plum Food Shoppe.

        The return to downtown comes 36 years after Al Silverglade Sr., now deceased, closed a shop at 39 E. Sixth St., under the former Bristol Hotel.

        The shop was closed because the building was demolished.

        “My sons Craig and Mike don't remember anything about that shop though I took them in when they were toddlers,” said Al Silverglade Jr., the semiretired patriarch who thinks it's time for a market downtown.

        He sees occupants of 300 nearby apartments and offices and envisions a pool of potential customers. With any luck, history will be repeated:

        “My dad's store was 15-foot wide and 27-foot deep and we worked like we were killing snakes,” he said.

        The plan calls for two chefs to cook high-quality meals of meatloaf, lasagna, various types of baked chicken breasts and desserts. No name has been chosen for the market.

        The Silverglades have stores at Findlay Market and in Anderson Township.

Downtown services lag

        While downtown has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people living in apartments (with city officials hoping to add 1,000 housing units), the central city has not seen a corresponding increase in service businesses such as grocery stores.

        A report from the University of Pennsylvania last year found that downtown Cincinnati now has as many people living in the central business district as in 1970. Only one of four American downtowns could make that claim.

        About 2,500 household units are now in the central business district and that equals about 4,000 people, said Kathy Schwab, residential development adviser for Downtown Cincinnati Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group.

        “This is what downtown needs. It's the old chicken and egg. How many residents do you have to get before you provide services. When you provide services, it will support residential development downtown,” she said.

        “The single biggest criticism is not having groceries and prepared foods venues downtown.”

Hope for the future

        Mr. Silverglade said he knows a New York-style market can make it downtown by offering the same items sold in Manhattan: ready-to-eat meals, fresh bread, produce and big bouquets of flowers.

        “We go to New York every year and you go into some of these places at supper time and they are just jamming,” he said. “That goes on day after day.

        “ We're going to do our best to do the same thing here.”


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