Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Give a Bit of Cleveland 

Holiday gifts straight from the heartland

One of the best-selling T-shirts at Steve Presser's Coventry Road novelty store, Big Fun, is the "Cleveland: You've Got to Be Tough" model, with its black-and-white smokestack logo. The sentiment's true enough. But as any Clevelander will tell you, there's plenty to cherish about our city that has nothing to do with hard times. Cleveland is lovable for its history, its unpretentious people, its storied sports teams, superb arts institutions, ethnic diversity, and gritty determination to transform misfortune into a better future.

So this year consider celebrating a "Made in Cleveland" holiday, avoiding the flat-screen TVs and other imported geegaws, and celebrating with gifts created right here in our hometown.

Old World Flavor

Cleveland once had the world's second-largest population of Hungarians, many of whom lived in the Buckeye-Woodland neighborhood. One of the last survivors of the old neighborhood is the charming Lucy's Sweet Surrender, an authentic Old World bakery and neighborhood fixture since 1962. Co-owner and baker Marika Feigenbaum tempts you with a heavenly array of homemade breads and pastries: Lucy's famous strudel, dobos torte, nut and poppy rolls, and a swoon-worthy selection of cakes ($25-$38), in varieties like rum, black forest, German chocolate, chestnut, and the Triangle Cake, a house-shaped confection that makes a gift almost too beautiful to eat. Lucy's offers local delivery and shipping to anywhere in the U.S. Visit them at 12516 Buckeye Rd.; 216-752-0828.

Asian Persuasions

Asians constitute one of the city's fastest-growing immigrant populations, a trend that brings us lovely delicacies like those at KoKo Bakery, where cases beckon with sweet and savory buns, colorful whipped-cream cake rolls (sampler $5.99), and — perfect for gift-giving — the Yule Log Cake ($58), a whimsical, labor-intensive creation depicting Santa and reindeers perched atop a chocolate-frosted log. KoKo's is at 3710 Payne Ave.; 216-881-7600.

Buy the Book

You can't call yourself a true Clevelander unless you've experienced the emotional roller-coaster ride of rooting for our hometown sports teams. In his new Gray & Co. book, Things I've Learned from Watching the Browns ($14.95), Plain Dealer sportswriter Terry Pluto collected 1,000 readers' responses to a crucial question: Why, despite a relentless pattern of heartbreak, do you stick with the Browns? "The only time I remember hugging my father was the moment when the Browns finally beat the Broncos with a last-second field goal in 1989," responded one fan. Also from Gray is Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It ($14.95), in which veteran sports journalist Dan Coughlin recounts 45 years of encounters with eccentric characters like George Steinbrenner and Sun Newspaper sportswriter Pete Gaughan, known for ripping open beer cans with his teeth. No publisher is more dedicated to mining Cleveland nostalgia than Gray; for these and other titles, visit

Gallery Galore

Paula Atwell founded her Lake Erie Artists Gallery at Shaker Square to showcase art and crafts by Clevelanders. The shop's paintings, glassware, photographs, and jewelry are thoughtfully selected, although Atwell laughs at the term "curated," which she finds too pretentious for what she does. Among the gift-ready items are hand-painted glassware by Mindy Sand ($22-$129) and colorful, handmade Lampwork Glass Beads by Berea's The Velvet Box, ready for stringing on Pandora bracelets. Atwell says the beads are "as nice, if not nicer than" the popular, nationally distributed Troll Beads. Find them at 13129 Shaker Blvd.; 216-752-9960.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Pamela Zoslov

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.