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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

This Weekend, Frank’s Bratwurst at West Side Market Reaches the 50-Year Milestone

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 10:54 AM

  • Courtesy Ryan Sheppard
Hearty congratulations are in order for Frank’s Bratwurst, the iconic sausage stand at the West Side Market. This weekend, the family-run business will celebrate its 50th birthday.

On October 31, 1970, Austrian immigrants Franz – aka Frank – Ratschki and his wife Johanna opened a small German-themed stall at the West Side Market as a way of supporting their family. Back then, the main menu item was chopped sausage on a plate with or without a side of sauerkraut. The roll came on the side. The going rate was 55 cents. As sales increased, it was suggested to Frank that the bratwurst should be made into a sandwich and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Courtesy Ryan Sheppard
“After 50 years, we just appreciate our loyal customers and the people who have supported us for this long,” says Frank’s grandson and current operator Ryan Sheppard, whose mother Ilse has been involved since day one. “We’ve seen many, many generations of families grow up here, watching families grow and watching things change around us. We see lots of customers from decades ago stop by and a lot of people moved away for work or pleasure, but when they come to Cleveland they always tell us their story and the memories they have from buying sandwiches from us.”

In 2011, Sheppard acquired a used potato chip delivery truck and introduced the world to the "Brat Mobile," Ashtabula County's first food truck.

While the family would love to celebrate in grand fashion, the current Covid crisis has put the brakes on anything big and bold. Instead, the family just hopes longtime fans will stop by, say hello, and grab one of those rightly famous sausage sandwiches – with or without the kraut. With luck and support, Frank’s will continue serving the community for another 50 years.

“Now we are onto the third generation and fourth generation is growing up now and they ‘help’ out in the food truck and stuff, but they are still 12 years old and younger,” Sheppard says.

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