Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman


The opening of a grocery store in what had been a derelict Beaux-Arts masterpiece is not simply a boon for residents of downtown Cleveland, it’s a great symbol of the importance of food to our communities. Hundreds of people came out for the 6-minute ribbon-cutting ceremony and to check out the newest resident. I asked Donna to join me and take some photos to document opening day (all photos here are hers). Does anyone know of a cooler grocery store in the country? If so, please tell me where!

Our local paper, The Plain Dealer (still the best-named paper in the country, though its plain dealing has been reduced to four days a week on actual newsprint), had the day well covered.

Our estimable architecture critic covers it incisively here, and does not hide his joy at how the integrity of the design, by George Post, has been restored. (Post’s previous design was for the New York Stock Exchange.)

Joe Crea, the PD food editor, covered it as a food destination (Heinen’s lured James Mowcomber away from his post as chef of Michael Symon’s Lolita).

And business reporter Janet Cho today reports on, well, the business of retailing food, now that the hoopla is over.



These cases are where bank teller windows once stood. Our culture has traded commerce in cash for commerce in food, a good choice!



It’s a traditional grocery store but still has a very urban feel.



The second floor carries more than 2000 bottles of wine. You can get a four-pack of Sutter or a $200 cab. And you can taste 40 different wines via their Cruvinet system.



Fish and meat are pricey but the quality is outstanding. I couldn’t resist the skate, which was gorgeous and made for a beautiful sauté in brown butter with garlic and thyme.



Heinen’s, like so many grocery stores today, do their best to feature local products, whether pickles and horseradish, sauces by local chefs such as Dante Bocuzzi, and amazing Ohio cheeses (Donna and I swooned over the kokoborrego camembert-style cheese).



Ed Thomkins pours celebratory Moët. Above right are the white-haired brothers, Jeff and Tom Heinen; tireless Cleveland booster, Joe Cimperman, Ward 3 Councilman, has his arm around Elee Hendon, who worked at Heinen’s in the 1950s and wanted to join the celebration.

I’m now afraid to enter this store. I’m going to spend way too much money here.


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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


23 Wonderful responses to “Opening of Heinen’s”

  • Ruth

    Always enjoy reading about new markets, esp. when combined w/historic architecture. Bravo! & thanks for the post.

  • Francine

    Now I don’t know what to hit first after arriving at Hopkins ;
    The Westside Market, this Gem or Vienna for some real deli meat???

  • Darcie

    While I appreciate the beauty of the place and am glad they rescued this historic building, there something to this that just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it’s just a very elitist vibe that I’m getting.

    My questions: Is this store close to the low-income urban population? Does it help people who didn’t have access to a grocery store downtown? Can they afford to shop there? Would they even feel comfortable (or welcome) in the store?

    I don’t want to hate on what is no doubt a gorgeous store filled with wonderful food, but I just can’t feel the love.

    • Lilly

      I was wondering the same things. You can get a 4-pack of Sutter Home, so hopefully it’s accessible to those who need it in the food desert.

    • Tony

      Very good questions. The answer quite frankly is no, it is not close to the low income population. It is situated right in the heart of Downtown CLE, surrounded by existing and under construction apartment buildings. Yes, it does help people who did not have access to a traditional grocery store in the downtown area. Yes, they can afford to shop here as a good majority of the residents downtown are young professionals. Aside from saving an historic and once proud building, this store fills an important void in the revitalized downtown residence scene.

    • john mahoney

      bravo for heinens i lived in cleveland in the late 70″s when the downtown rivaled detroit and no one ate or shopped there and the flats was place for assassination or assignation it takes entrepreneurial courage to make a move like this and if they fail its on them perhaps we should close the art institute or orchestra hall and move them to a less comfortable area cleveland was built by rockefeller and the men of iron and steel it was is and can be one of the great american cities keep it out of the hands of the social engineers

  • Anton Zuiker

    Bravo, beautiful. This makes me cry. I miss Cleveland. Thank you Michael and Donna for transporting me there for a brief moment, and putting the new store at the top of my list of places to visit when I’m back in Cleveland this summer.

  • Jim O.

    Michael; do you really think Cleveland can support this kind of retail establishment?

    I ask because, frankly, Greater Cleveland isn’t a trendy upmarket haven — and the vibe I get from the repurposed bank through your blog and photos is that that is exactly the demographic they’re targeting. Even assuming the City is hoping to anchor some redevelopment / revitilization plans around Heinen’s, I can’t see a downtown supermarket as a ‘destination’ for shoppers. Especially in the dead of Winter (It’s February, right? Just off the Lake Erie shore, right?), gorgeous architecture notwithstanding.

    Is there more going on than just Heinen’s?

    • Tony

      The redevelopment and revitalization has been well under way for long before the Heinen brothers decided to open here. This store fills an important void for downtown residents. This is exactly the type of anchor retail establishment that will accelerate the population resurgence in downtown CLE that is already moving at a serious pace.

      • Rachele

        I started working downtown about 10 years ago, and am amazed at how far it has come, even in just the last 3 years. Lots of energy and excitement. Young people (even families!) moving in. Heinens is really just the next logical step in keeping things moving In the right direction.

  • EHS

    To Darcie:

    The store is in the heart of downtown Cleveland, most convenient for the many residents of several high-rent apartment buildings. I’m not sure of the exact demographics of the population, but it is predominantly young professional types. There is some luxury-scale housing nearby too. So this grocery store is perfectly appropriate for this neighborhood, which previously has had no grocery store. In the low-income areas directly east and west of downtown, there are discount grocery stores (as a full stores, not corner markets). Both are accessible by public transit.

    There are certainly food deserts in Cleveland. But I don’t think that a discount grocery store in this location would address this issue effectively. Downtown is not the area we need to worry about.

  • Michael C

    To Jim O- when is the last time you’ve been to downtown Cleveland? There’s tons of residential luxury living all around this store plus tens of thousands of downtown employees and many will patronize this store daily. Plus the fact that it’s down the street from the second largest theatre district, next to Broadway in NYC and blocks away from CSU. Somehow downtown manages to support a numerous amount of higher end restaurants, bars and lounges so I think this grocery store will be fine. Also the addition of several high end hotels will also be a major advantage for Heinens, being the only larger grocery store downtown. If you are from Cleveland you need to go and explore your downtown more and if you are not from Cleveland you need to lose your stereotype of what you thought this city was like and realize it’s not 1995 anymore.

    • Jim O.

      To Michael C. (and Tony, above)

      I’m in Cleveland once or twice a year — and I’m familiar with the revitalization that’s been going on for quite some time.

      The thing is, you mention higher-end “restaurants, bars, and lounges” and the theatre district; all places of destination entertainment — not shopping. Customers don’t have to lug cartfuls of heavy doggie bags, cocktail napkins, and playbills home the way they do with groceries.

      Can you see a high-end hardware store or auto parts store there? They’re more akin to groceries than nightclubs and theatres. Hotel guests have no need for any of those stores. “Entertainment destination” is a different beast than shopping for sundries.

      And, no; sorry — I’m not familiar with the ‘luxury living’ downtown. I’m not so fortunate as to know such ‘luxurious people’ living there. 🙂

      Please understand that no disrespect to Cleveland is intended: my beloved Buffalo/WNY looks, in part, to Cleveland as inspiration for its own redevelopment and revitilization. I suppose my initial question (above) arose from wanting a better understanding of the competing needs of urban commercial development and community infrastructure.

      • Tony

        Jim O.

        Please accept our apologies. We Clevelanders can be a little defensive at times since we are so accustomed to the avalanche of snickers and hate when we try to do something good.
        I guess I see this store becoming a short term destination born out of curiosity. This is a suburban grocery store in the heart of downtown. Nothing really like it anywhere. The local media has floated periodic on line surveys about what it would take to get people to move downtown. Among other things, a full service grocery is a common answer. I really see this as the catalyst to bring the other needed retail back into downtown.

  • Allen

    This is something that must be experienced in person. We’ve become so tired and used to the traditional box grid layout of the classic grocery store/ Costco, primarily designed to manipulate the shoppers senses with product placement.

    This is a bold fresh unique idea, I love the idea, but fear the prices would be beyond my reach.
    I hope the concept catches on, and maybe for shoppers of all income levels, I wish it great success.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Janet

    This new and grand Heinen’s looks splendid! It’s far and away the grandest grocery store I’ve ever seen. But since you asked, the only other cathedrals-to-food that I’ve known were Bridgemarket underneath the Queensboro Bridge at 1st Avenue & 59th Street Manhattan and Balducci’s when it was in the old NY Savings Bank building at the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street Manhattan (2005-2009). Bridgemarket had Rafael Guastavino tile-vaulted ceilings (circa 1909) and the NY Savings Bank building was designed by Robert Henderson Robertson in 1897.

  • Billy Noble

    I love Heinens. Go there every time I visit my daughter in Aurora. The West End Market is also a great place. Some people just like to complain. I think this new store will be a great place to visit and buy. Cleveland is making a great come back. You are lucky to have such a great governor. And just think the Cavs are doing very well.

  • Liz

    Between this and the West Side Market I really wish I still lived in Cleveland.

  • James O.

    Let’s boot this troll.

    Betcha dollars to donuts that some spambot recognized that the store is in a former bank, and jumped on the bank/mortgage keywords.