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Store meets a need in Mantua

By Matthew Merchant | staff writer Published: October 17, 2016 4:00 AM
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Not many places offer fresh, local produce, let alone a working gumball machines.

Jake's Market in Mantua has both, and much more.

Located at 10710 Main Street, the small store has been providing a source of food to the area for more than a year.

It stands as a testament to owners Jodie Fiala and Kim Sumwalt. After Haylett's moved their small grocery store to Mantua Corners on S.R. 82, the downtown area was left without a food sources.

Fiala, a graduate of Crestwood schools, and Sumwalt, of Cuyahoga Falls, opened Jake's Restaurant on E. Prospect Street in 2009 with the intent of taking their passion for local foods to a practical reality.

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"We wanted to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to Mantua because there's no place like it," Fiala said.

They opened Jake's Market in 2015 because they got tired of buying foods from outside the area and wanted to give the people of Mantua somewhere to buy fresh vegetables and fruits like the ones on their menu.

That's a problem facing other communities in Northern Portage County. Windham and Hiram residents have to travel to Garrettsville or farther for a grocery store.

Mantua has been slow to receive the idea of a market, Fiala said. Besides the regulars who come in for specific products, not even local council members or business owners utilize the market.

"We're on the main road, but there's people that live up the hill that don't we're here. Or the restaurants that are here, either," she said.

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Inside the store are fresh fruits and vegetables in wooden crates, all purchased from nearby farmers markets when in season or from Sirna & Sons in Ravenna. They also sell fish and meats.

"In the fall, I get local lamb and have frozen ground beef from local sources," she said.

They've recently partnered with Hiram Farm for lettuce and other items growing in the hydroponic system. And they've partnered with Bent Tree Coffee Roasters in Kent to sell locally roasted coffee beans

"As we kept developing, we couldn't find anywhere to buy fresh bread. So we started making it here," she said. They bake the loaves in convection ovens on-site.

The market also serves hot soup every day of the week on a rotating schedule. And much of the business comes from regular catering services to the Rotary Club of Mantua and Lion's Club meetings,

It's that spirit of local collaboration that has kept the place thriving. Local markets can do a lot of good for a community, Fiala said, and it's sad to see them disappearing to larger chain stores.

"We're always adding something. Probably once a week I'm adding something," she said. "It just depends on what people are looking for."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or mmerchant@recordpub.com

Twitter: @MattMerchantRC

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