CLE W side - Rego's Westlake
Not sure how "chow"-ish this is since it's not about a restaurant, but it IS about food, and an independent.
If you live or happen to be in/by North Olmsted or Westlake with any frequency (I don't live there, but I am on the W side about once a week), I hope you'll consider doing some grocery shopping at the Rego's on Columbia (near I-90). This is the space where TOPS used to be quite awhile ago.
This store stocks a LOT of local foods (to Cleveland, and to Ohio, but also goods from surrounding state's farms instead of just mass-produced stuff by Dean Foods or whatever) but I worry every time I go there that they will be closed. There aren't a lot of customers and many of the shelves are very bare, it's clear they are really struggling. Everyone there is so nice. There's not one gum-chewing, indifferent teen at the register talking to the bag boy about their upcoming date or how many minutes until their break, they offer a lot of services and products and I really wish more people were shopping there.
The heaviest local (to cleveland) representative is from Corbo's bakery in Little Italy. They have nearly every variety of product that Corbo's produces. Dozens of kinds of very fresh bread including of course Italian as well as rolls, ciabatta, foccacia, pepperoni rolls, garlic bread, hoagies, etc. They stock Corbo's pizza sauce and pasta sauce. And they have a HUGE selection of their sweet bakery items, including big slices of their cassata cake, tiramisu, orange torte, lemon cake, cheesecake, etc. They also have all of these cakes whole and ready to take-out as well as their lemon ice. And they also have a couple of kinds of their take-and-bake pizza, which I haven't tried. This is really convenient for me because let me tell you the last time I got over to Little Italy in the winter...ok, I can't, because it ain't happening. Not to mention the parking over there, oy.
They have Ohio-produced milk and a variety of Ohio dairy products in great supply, and their meat selection looks very fresh and good (I just bought some western ribs today which are now in the crock pot) and includes gerber amish country chicken. I was even surprised to find Tony Packo's pickles and peppers on the shelf since they don't have those at any of the other groceries I shop at. They also have a variety of Rego's branded frozen, pasta that you could take and make whatever with. These are just a few examples.
They also just started a frequent shopper program with a card; you do NOT have to have a card to get sales prices, but the points you earn go towards earning gift cards, I think you get a $20 for every $300 you spend.
Where they fail is in selection of their "inner aisle" shelves; likely because not enough people are shopping there for them to be able to fully stock things. Most everything is "represented" but, for example, I couldn't get any recycled TP there so I didn't buy any from them. The chips and pop aisle, which I don't shop in, seemed the fullest of all the shelf-stable items, and that's kind of sad. I will fess up to using the green can of Kraft parm and at some groceries I can get Miceli's, which is local, so I usually use that when I can find it and they didn't have that at Rego's, but they did have another indie/off brand which was way cheaper than the kraft so I got that.
I just feel like nobody knows about this place or what they have, or that all the W side hounds are missing out on an opportunity to shop locally (Rego's) and support local producers (via their products) because it's possible the majority of people that are going there are just looking for their Charmin and Lay's and Pepsi or whatever, so I wanted to post about it. Please, if you're on the W side, give them a try and give them a little business.
Well, a sad update to this thread, I heard on the radio this store is closing. I went to the Rego's in Fairview Park yesterday and it didn't look much better than the Westlake one, so I wonder if they are all on their way out. Really too bad. I wish the W siders could have better supported this local place.