Just a Grocer’s Son feature of Watt Center program

Special to the Enterprise
Grandpa Abe Frizzi, Dan Frizzi, the author and his brother in the 1950s with the store delivery truck.

Next up for the speaker’s series on Nov. 4 at the Watt Center for History and the Arts is Bellaire attorney Dan Frizzi Jr. He is the author of Just A Grocer’s Son: The Disappearance of the Small Neighborhood Grocer, who will share the story of his family’s neighborhood grocery store in Bellaire through a powerpoint presentation featuring over 70 photographs.

The Watt Center, at 511 Watt Ave., Barnesville (near the historic B&O Railroad Station) will host the program at 7 p.m. Nov. 4. The doors will open at 6 for visitors who wish to view the center’s many historical displays. Admission for the program is $5 to support programming for the group. The Watt Center facility is handicapped-accessible.

For the better half of the 20th century, grocery shopping took place in the many neighborhood groceries of any small town. In Barnesville, there were 20 groceries listed in the 1926 city directory. In 1949 there were still 19, seven of them M-K stores run by the local Barnesville-based chain. In Bellaire, there were dozens more including the one run by Frizzi’s grandfather Abe Frizzi, an Italian immigrant.              

The book details the author’s family's grocery business spanning more than 100 years and four locations in Bellaire. The "Grocer" was grandfather Abramo who came to the United States from Umbria region of Italy in 1907 to join his brother Artemio at the age of 16. He could not read or write English, and together they worked in the coal fields in Piney Fork, Ohio. They later traveled west to Colorado to work in the silver mines before returning to Bellaire. Together they opened their first grocery store along Hamilton Street near the Italian American community and the Great Stone Viaduct. Then they opened their second grocery store on the then-thriving Union Street in the same building that today houses the famed spaghetti house the Roosevelt Restaurant. The third grocery store was opened in 1921 along Washington Street after his grandfather married his grandmother.  Dan Frizzi, the "grocer’s son" joined his father in the business in 1948 when the grocery business became known as Frizzi & Son. This is where the author began his own work as the 2nd "grocer's son" in the 1950s, and later at Frizzi Market which Dan Sr. built in West Bellaire in 1969. 

Book Cover for The Grocer’s Son: The Disappearance of the Small Neighborhood Grocer.

Frizzi’s early training in these neighborhood grocery stores provided a foundation for his future education and life's work.  Unlike so many children today, the author had the opportunity to work in a family-owned business, just one of many small grocery stores that used to be a part of our communities. Sadly, those little grocery stores have mostly disappeared including the family store that closed in 2019, the last of such stores in Bellaire.

Each of the structures that housed the family businesses still exist in the city, and the many memories of working in the last two stores are discussed in the book. The presentation includes photographs that will provide a view of what it was like working in a small grocery store alongside his grandfather the "Grocer" and his father the "Son". 

Additional information on the Watt Center is posted on the organization’s Facebook page.