Harsha Chandupatla / Observer
Warm sunbeams fall on the potted flowers decorating the front of a small open air market on the side of Euclid Avenue. Behind the streets filled with traffic, customers enter through the old, paint-chipped door. Despite its rough exterior, the inside of J&L Country Market hides a selection of vibrant (and local) fruits and vegetables, as well as a section for various common student needs.
J&L Country Market and Garden Center opened over 50 years ago. It started as a family business, and remains one to this day. The two owners, brothers Joseph and Anthony Londrico, can usually be seen standing in front of the store to meet-and-greet customers, and the chances are that if you go, you will see at least one, if not both of them.
Standing right across the street from Constantino’s, J&L offers food for cheaper prices, but it also has more limited hours. The market stays open from the last week of April all the way until Halloween, and its selection of produce changes seasonally. According to J. Londrico, the fall season is when they get most of their locally grown food. While the selection of fruit may not be as big as a super market, the fruits and vegetables are consistently fresh.
The inside of the store is mostly lit with natural light. Dull fluorescent lights hover above the fruit laid out on tables in the middle of the store. Opaque white walls surround the store, trapping inside the cool air that keeps the food fresh. The produce is scattered around, which can make it hard to navigate at first. However, an assortment of basic fruits and vegetables line the back walls.
J&L makes some effort to cater to the students and faculty of Case Western Reserve University. J. Londrico describes the store as “open to student suggestions for new items to sell in the store.”
Since enacting this policy, he has picked up new student-driven items like ramen and snacks. Since they do sell locally grown food, prices may be slightly more than grocery stores, but that doesn’t say much for Cleveland’s fresh produce prices. But the Londrico brothers always consider the college student budget, and in an effort to compensate for slightly higher costs, they offer a 10 percent student discount on all purchases of $10 or more.
While the outside of the store may not seem friendly, the inside is quaint. The staff circulates the inside and outside of the store, in an effort to converse with you and show you around. Since the store is small and family owned, J. Londrico said that being friendly with customers is something they value very highly. If you are craving something more locally grown than what you can find at a grocery store, try J&L for a fresh start to the new academic year.