By Kevin Kelley
The pizza bagel has become a favorite Cleveland product.
Also known as a pizagle, the pizza bagel consists of a soft, doughy bagel with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top. A vendor at the West Side Market began selling them in the 1980s, although Wikipedia attributes the pizza bagel’s origins to a California bagel shop in the 1970s, or even to Jewish and Italian immigrants in New York City in the early 20th century.
Terry Frick purchased the West Side Market stand nine years ago and renamed it “Frickaccio’s,” an Italianized version of her last name.
Even in Northeast Ohio, the pizza bagel isn’t an everyday food favorite for everyone, Frick said.
“If you hadn’t been to the (West Side) Market, you have no idea what it is,” Frick said.
But that’s changing. Frickaccio’s was featured on the Food Network’s “$24 in 24” program, hosted by “Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro, in September.
“When people see it on the Food Network, they know it’s good,” Frick said of the bump in sales she got from the TV appearance.
Frick, whose father grew up in Fairview Park, didn’t have any formal training as a chef.
“I learned from my mom and my grandmom,” she said. “My parents always entertained, so (preparing food) was just natural. What I liked about it was that it was something you got instant results from.”
The “Frickaccio’s” name actually predates her purchase of the West Side Market shop. Her husband, Nick, came up with it as the name for the jars of canned sauce she began giving away to friends 30 years ago.
Frick said she purchased the West Side Market stand because it provided a challenge she needed. But she wasn’t prepared for the steep learning curve and credits other market vendors with teaching her the ropes.
For about eight years, Frick prepared her pizza bagels and other food items at a rented bakery. A year ago she opened a second location on Lorain Road, located at 22560 Lorain Road, to serve as a baking site for the West Side Market stand and sell items to Westshore customers.
“It was nice to come back,” she said of her hometown, where her husband’s family also used to live.
“Right now, people are just finding us,” she said of the Fairview Park location.
Many people have asked Frick if having a second location was helpful when the West Side Market closed for nearly three weeks due to a fire Jan. 30. The answer, she said, is not really, as most of Frickaccio’s revenue comes from the West Side Market location. The draw of the West Side Market, she said, is the ability to shop at multiple vendors in one trip. Therefore, few customers would be willing to make a special trip to the Fairview Park store just for Frickaccio’s products, she said.
However, some customers did just that to stock up on food for Super Bowl parties, said Frick, who was able to keep followers informed about product availability at the Fairview Park store via the store’s Facebook page.
Since the West Side Market reopened, business has been excellent, not only at Frickaccio’s but for other vendors there as well, Frick said. “We cannot put enough food in our cases on Saturdays,” she said.
The West Side Market shop sells pizza, pizza supplies, pizza bagels and sandwiches. Modeled after the market location, the Fairview Park store has more of a selection, including bakery items, prepared foods and fresh breads in addition to the pizza and pizza bagels.
A popular item is the fresh pizza kits, consisting of dough, sauce and cheese which people can use to create their own pizzas at home.
About 20 percent of Frickaccio’s business is as a wholesale supplier to providers of private-label grocery store products. These products include certified organic doughballs and party trays.
Frick intends to sell her pizza bagels to select restaurants, but not to supermarkets at this time. That means her specialty will be available only at the West Side Market and Fairview Park store.
But Frick still wants the world to become familiar with the pizza bagel. She has declared the second Sunday of National Pizza Month (October) to be National Pizza Bagel Day. This year, it will be Oct. 12.
For more information about Frickaccio’s, visit its website at frickaccios.com.