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Downtown businesses try to stay afloat

What impact does the recession have on Euclid storefronts?

MAY 6, 2010

Despite the changing face of downtown retail and plans for new development, several businesses have called the area around Cleveland State University home for many years. Among them: Rascal House, Brothers Printing, Becky’s, Marino’s Haircutting and Johnnie’s Deli.

At Rascal House Pizza, “Our pizza shop has created a rewards program to say thank you to our customers,” said Mike Frangos, Rascal House president. A Rascal Rewards card allows customers to earn points and to use those points for free food prizes and cash discounts.

Frangos and his wife, Fouly, opened their first Rascal House restaurant in 1980 opposite CSU. They took over two failing fast food restaurants and within a few months transformed them into a popular pizza place.

Two years after the restaurant opened, students at the university voted Rascal House the best off-campus eatery. Rascal House has also kept up with technology by utilizing the Internet to offer online ordering on its corporate Web site.

“Within the past four to five years online ordering has really picked up, with 10 percent of our business coming from online orders,” said Frangos. “People are able to place their order and get exactly what they want because they control the actual ordering process.”

Another local business that has maintained longevity near Cleveland State is Brothers Printing. Brothers Printing Company at 2000 Euclid Ave. is a commercial job shop that has been in business for more than 75 years. It is a union shop with sheet-fed printing, both offset and letterpress, full color digital design, typesetting and bindery capabilities. Owners Davis and Jay Kaufman have been in business for more than 35 years.

The Kaufmans also started construction in October 2007 on a five-story building next door to their printing business. “We wanted to see what we could do to enhance the block,” said David.

Their renovation has evolved into the University Lofts, a new condo and apartment community, located along Euclid Avenue in CSU’s College Town.

Becky’s, another small local business, opened its doors in 1986. Becky’s is located half a block from Cleveland State's main campus on 1762 E. 18th St. Owner Tim Blair bought Becky’s from his mother and sister more than ten years ago.

“We try to have good food, good service and reasonable prices in a comfortable atmosphere and we try to be consistent,” said Blair. “If someone comes in and gets a great burger, they want it to be the same way the next time they come in. If it's not, they're disappointed.”

Becky’s generates a diverse crowd. “We get everyone from college students to theater people to business people to construction workers to cops,” said Blair. “It's a good place for people to meet, and we end up with a good mix of people that would be hard to duplicate somewhere else.”

Marino’s Haircutting is located on 1836 Euclid Ave. across from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Owner Tim Marino, has been in business since 1963. “Being around the university and students and businessmen who were prominent in the area at the time drew me into Cleveland,” said Marino.

“We get a lot of international students because they feel at home here.”

Johnnie's Deli & Restaurant has a classic diner feel and a menu of home-style classics. Specialties include corned beef sandwiches, chicken salad wraps and grilled chicken.

Businesses may not have found solace in this recession, but many make the most out of the market location.