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As Cleveland’s biggest suburb, it’s not surprising that many Parmidians have gone on to do some pretty cool things. For example, did you know that Ferris Bueller’s best bud Cameron (Alan Douglas Ruck) graduated from Parma Senior High School? More locally, Browns player Jamie Meder is from Parma Heights. There are plenty of other Parma-area natives doing great things in the Cleveland area, too. We’ve reached out to some to hear more about their thoughts on growing up in Parma and the city’s future.

Matt Fish, owner and founder of Melt Bar and Grilled

What do you love about Parma?

I love Parma mostly because it is my hometown and it is where life began.  All my formative years were spent in Parma so I have a ton of great and not-so-great memories. Every good and bad early decision was made in Parma. All my early important friendships (some I still have today) were all forged in Parma. I frequented Parmatown Mall, specifically Aladdin’s Castles arcade, Camelot Music and the food court. I remember hanging out at Space Invaders and Peaches. I played baseball for nine years at Forestwood and State Road fields, and frequented the pool at Walter’s Grove.

My love for music and cooking were both born in Parma. I fell in love with music and rock & roll at the Parma Snow library. Each week I took out a new record and got turned on to so many bands that I likely had no business listening to at such a young age. My love for cooking and restaurants came from my first job out of high school at Rocky’s Pizza. It really shaped me and pushed me down that path. If I had not gotten my first real job at Rocky’s Pizza, I am not sure what or where I would be today.

What do you do when you come back to Parma?

The new Metroparks off Grantwood have become a regular hiking area for me, my wife and our two Great Danes. The backyard of my father’s house where I grew up dumps out into the eastern end of the park. I grew up in those woods, so I still love them. They are an amazing part of the Parma landscape.

What would you like to see happen in the city?

I would like to see more younger people and families moving into the city; more people who did not grow up there appreciating what Parma has to offer. And more neighborhood ice cream shops, my secret favorite part about Parma!

Was being close to Parma a consideration in opening Melt locations?

The Independence location was a great opportunity presented to me in 2011, and just so happened to be so close to the areas of Parma I know and grew up in. It felt like a homecoming when I opened the third Melt Bar and Grilled location. I knew the area could potentially be a good area for us, but it has definitely exceeded our expectations.

Dave Bumba, owner Yuzu, Lakewood

Did growing up in Parma shape what you do now at all?

It’s quite possible. Parma is a hard-working and humble community, so that work ethic certainly resonates and motivates me.

Being from Parma Heights, what do you like about the Parma area?  

It’s a safe, affordable and friendly community. There’s a good amount of green space and parks. I grew up going to Parmatown Mall; I was big mall rat. I like how Parma is starting to redevelop space (such as Parmatown) to better fit the needs of the community. My parents still live in Parma Heights and I visit on a regular basis. We still order Godmother’s Pizza fairly regularly.

What would you like to see happen in the city? 

Suburbs across the country are facing a crisis in general. Younger generations are moving back into the city and redeveloping urban landscapes while abandoning outer-ring suburbia. This urban renaissance is triggered by a few things: practicality, affordability and accessibility.

Cleveland neighborhoods like Ohio City, Gordon Square, Tremont and Lakewood offer accessibility and relative affordability. They also boast trendy, in-touch local small businesses. Meanwhile much of suburbia is cookie-cutter, copy-and-paste chains, which offer no unique social currency.

So what does Parma have to do to stay relevant? It needs to develop smaller, self-sufficient neighborhoods that boast the same attractions as many trendy urban communities.

Lakewood seems to have done a great job turning dive bars into something that attracts young people. How do you think neighborhood bars in Parma can market or make changes to attract a younger crowd? 

I don’t think the dive bars themselves necessarily attract a young crowd in Lakewood. They are a cataclysmic byproduct of the city’s success in attracting a young, vibrant crowd and staying relevant with the times.

Lakewood thrives because it has affordable housing, it’s accessible to alternative forms of transportation and the small business community is vibrant and in touch with a younger generation. Having a lot of bars is a nice neighborhood perk, but I don’t think people move to Lakewood just because of the bar scene.

So how can Parma stay relevant? By creating affordable, smaller self-sustaining communities with the city and re-purposing abandoned retail space into more relevant usage. Parma needs to take some chances on redevelopment and carve out a new identity. Otherwise it will just fade into the background as another generic community. I would try and attract artists and musicians to the area; they tend to care more about the communities they live in and are active participants in cleaning up and improving their neighborhood.

Would you ever consider opening a business or working for a business in the Parma area?

Definitely, if the opportunity arose. Parma is in need of a few young entrepreneurs to pump some new blood and new ideas into the community.

Natasha Pogrebinsky, executive chef of both South Side and the Hi & Dry in Tremont, and independent hospitality consultant

What do you love about Parma? 

Growing up in Parma, I loved our small-town-big-world feel. We could run to State Road park, ride our bikes to Honey Hut and all our schools and churches were right there. I loved our libraries. I was at one at least five times a week. It always felt like a really tight community, but at the same time we had so many cultures and ethnicities all living together―opening their stores, restaurants and other businesses. It’s a beautiful and very welcoming city to live in and raise kids.

After returning from New York City, where I lived for 15 years, I moved straight to Parma. I live on the same street I grew up on. I still frequent the international market on State and Snow, Lviv. I collaborate with Rudy’s Strudel on pierogie recipes and serve them in my restaurants. I also work with Perla’s Pierogies. On the weekends, I love the West Creek Reservation―picnicking there, or going on hikes with my dog.

What would you like to see happen in the city? 

I’d like to see more opportunities and incentives for small businesses to open or move to the city.

Would you ever consider opening a business or working for a business in the Parma area?

Absolutely, it’s a great city to own and run a business. Parma is easily accessible from all other neighborhoods and we have a very active consumer base.

Amanda Montague, owner of Lilly’s Handmade Chocolates, Old Brooklyn

 

Did growing up in Parma shape what you do now?

My first job was at East Coast Custard, so I think I was drawn to sweets from the start. It didn’t become a focus of my career path until much later in life, but I’m sure that sugar bug was always buzzing in my ear.

Although not sweet, I have great memories of going to Midtown Tavern to get their cheeseburgers and onion rings…I can still smell them and will always remember the back booth where I could spy a look into the kitchen. I always wanted to know what was going on back there! I’m sure it helped develop my strong feelings toward creating food and connecting memories with it. Food is such a personal thing, and to be able to make a connection with people through the food you create―it’s an amazing experience.

What do you love about Parma? 

Parma is great because of the awesome Metroparks that run through it, and all the great food memories I gained as a child there. As a kid, I spent a lot of time outside, running through Big Creek Parkway and going to the Parma pools. And oh, how I miss the Parma Theatre―so many fun times there!

I’ve been going to China Jade since I was born! Birthdays, family dinners―it was always the one place we all agreed on. Now adays, I get to take my  son and my husband there and enjoy the same hospitality and War Wu Gai  that I loved as a child. East Coast Frozen custard is always a staple in the summer time, and the new splash pad area for kids is amazing.

5 thoughts on “Parma natives doing cool things in Cleveland

  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information about my fellow Parmesans! I am so proud of this city. We have needed young people to represent Parma for a long time! Thank you!😍

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      1. Mrs. Schwark! Some of the best times I remember in Parma were in 1st grade with you as my teacher.

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  2. I grew up in Parma as well. I sure miss the Midtown Tavern’s pierogies and Best Steakhouse’s gyro’s and Texas Toast. Does anyone remember Koopman’s on State Road across from the Jesuit Retreat House? Fantastic Chicken and side dishes.
    People in Parma are humble and hardworking. Great memories!

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