Filed Under Businesses

Azman & Sons Market

Some masters of craft may work in paints, and others, wood. Frank Azman III, however, worked in meats for over four decades. An afternoon spent in Azman & Sons Market over a sausage sandwich revealed in one bite why the shop was a staple of the neighborhood for generations. Similarly, customers who were greeted by first name upon arrival added to the charm of Azman's, harkening back to an era when businesses more commonly knew their customers personally and corner markets stood as epicenters of activity in communities.

The Azman family first began working in the sausage business in the village of Ig, a small town in their native country of Slovenia. Frank Azman relocated his family and business to America during World War I, a period which saw the greatest recorded emigration of Slovenians to the United States in history. Settling in Cleveland, Azman reestablished his sausage shop in 1924 at 6501 St. Clair Avenue amidst the largest Slovenian community in the country.

As not only business owners but, also, residents, the Azman name quickly became recognizable in the St. Clair neighborhood and soon began to spread throughout the city of Cleveland. Proud of their community and eager to participate in local events, Azman son’s, Frank II and Louis, refurbished their father’s old Model T to be used in parades to promote Azman & Sons Market. During its arguably most memorable ride, a Miss World pageant winner once joined the Azmans in the Model T when she arrived late to an event and her scheduled parade float had already set off.

Besides assisting beauty pageant winners in times of distress, the Azman family also helped those looking for the familiarity of a home-cooked meal. In 1968, a crew of Yugoslavian volunteer servicemen were docked in Cleveland and hoped to find a dinner reminiscent of their homeland. After sampling an Azman sausage at a local restaurant, the restauranteur contacted Azman & Sons Market to see if the servicemen could have some sausages to take with them upon their departure. Although already closed for the day, the shop was reopened and the crew was treated to more food for their journey.

What had really kept Azman & Sons in business for over nine decades, though, was the family’s dedication to their local customer base and quality of their products. When asked what the most important ingredient to the Azman sausage recipe was, third-generation owner Frank Azman III pointed without hesitation to the original brick smokehouse. Located behind the shop, the small, unassuming brick structure had been smoking sausages since 1924. Modern-day smokehouses are primarily stainless steel and Azman III argued that they cannot match the flavor of a sausage slowly smoked over cherry wood.

In addition to the smokehouse, the store had also kept the original butcher block table in the center of the kitchen, worn down by years of cleaning. Likewise, the store had continued to use the original cooler, which was first chilled by large overhead ice blocks but was eventually updated to run on electricity. These pieces remained in use as operable parts of the shop’s longstanding history.

Azman & Sons Market once served the community as a full -service grocery store offering patrons produce and pantry items in addition to the three hundred pounds of meat they processed and sold weekly. As the needs of the neighborhood changed, however, Azman & Sons Market scaled back its operations to focus on meats. Azman & Sons closed permanently in December 2021 with the passing of the store’s owner Frank Azman. The Azman legacy continues, however, with Frank’s brother Bill Azman. Bill runs a similar store called Azman Quality Meats located at 610 East 200th Street in Euclid.

Audio

Azman & Sons Market in the Past Third-generation owner of Azman & Sons Market, Frank Azman III, describes what the market was like in its heyday. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The Process of Making Sausage Third generation owner of Azman & Sons Market, Frank Azman III, tells how he prepares and cooks the meat used to create his Slovenian sausage. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
What Has Kept Azman & Sons Market in Cleveland? Third generation owner of Azman & Sons Market, Frank Azman III, discusses one of the reasons why the family owned business has remained in the city of Cleveland since 1924. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

The Front Window The front window of 6501 St. Clair Avenue has borne the Azman family name since 1924, a local favorite for traditional Slovenian smoked sausage. Source: Frank Azman
Azman & Sons Market Exterior. This undated photograph of Azman & Sons Market shows the front view of the home which still retains the Azman & Sons Market awning cover shown above the first floor window today. Source: Frank Azman
Inside the Meat Cooler. Inside the wood construction freezer hangs meats waiting to be processed and sausages ready for purchase just as they have since the market opened in 1924. Source: Joe Dill
Interior of Azman & Sons Market In the center of the kitchen stands the original butcher block table used by three generations of Azmans to prepare meats flanked on its right by the original, still operable, cooler. Source: Joe Dill
The Smokehouse Owner Frank Azman III stands inside the original brick smokehouse used to cook meats since 1924. Azman cites the smokehouse as the most important ingredient to his products, creating a smoky flavor unachievable in modern, stainless steel smokehouses. Source: Joe Dill
The Azman & Sons Market Parade Float Frank Azman II and his wife Ann (backseat) and Louis Azman and his wife Marie (front seat) ride in their father's refurbished Model T which they regularly used to promote the market dressed in period costumes. Source: Frank Azman
The Azman Family. In this undated photograph, two generations of Azman men gather around the butcher block table still in use in the shop today. Directly behind the group shows how the shop appeared when it once served as a neighborhood grocery providing canned goods, produce, and pantry items in addition to the Azman Slovenian smoked sausages. Source: Frank Azman
The Owners Inside Azman & Sons Market stands founder Frank Azman I and his grandson and current owner Frank Azman III. Source: Frank Azman
Azman & Sons Market Exterior Home to Azman & Sons Market since 1924, the shop on St. Clair Avenue has remained largely unchanged through the years. The first floor houses the market and prep area and the family once lived on the second floor for several decades. Source: Joe Dill

Location

6501 St. Clair Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103

Metadata

Joe Dill , “Azman & Sons Market,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 4, 2023, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/720.