A Global City

Arab | Chinese | Korean | Vietnamese | Italian | Irish | Slovene | German | Czech | Croatian | Pole | Greek | Puerto Rican

Immigrants from all over the globe have made Cleveland their home. Numerous languages are spoken in Cleveland’s diverse neighborhoods, and ethnic restaurants and grocers can be found in nearly every corner of the city. Cleveland’s many museums and cultural institutions, and a host of other multicultural resources, also give Cleveland a cosmopolitan flair.

For an overall look at Cleveland’s multicultural resources, see www.clevelandpeople.com.

Highlights of Cleveland’s ethnic heritage—and some shopping and dining tips offered by students, faculty and staff—are listed below.

Arab Community

arabianImmigrants from the Middle East began arriving in Cleveland as early as 1895, most escaping the turmoil in the region that led up to World War I. Many early Arab settlers came from the region bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including modern-day Syria and Lebanon. These immigrants settled around Bolivar Avenue in downtown Cleveland and in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.

A second wave of Arab immigrants arrived in Cleveland after the founding of Israel in 1948, including mostly displaced Palestinians.

Today, the city's Arab heritage can be seen in the markets around the West Side Market and in the churches, especially St. Maron's on Carnegie and St. George Antiochian Orthodox Chruch (pictured) in Tremont.


Almadina Imports, (11550 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, Ohio, 216.671.4661) stocks all things Middle Eastern, from pomegranate juice to olives to freshly baked pastries. There are grains, breads, meats (slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines), and a large variety of spices and nuts.

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Chinese Community

asianCleveland's Chinese heritage stems from a small, but close-knit group of Cantonese that settled in near Public Square in the late 1860s. These early Chinese residents were mostly restaurant owners and workers.

As downtown Cleveland grew, this community moved east, first to the area around E. 55th and Euclid and in the 1930s to Cleveland's Chinatown, centered around Rockwell and E. 24th St.

The 1970s and 1980s brought an influx of younger Chinese immigrants, drawn to Cleveland's universities and jobs in engineering and technology.

Today, Cleveland's Asiatown is filled with Chinese-American-owned restaurants and Chinese food stores and experiencing a rebirth as a residential neighborhood.


Tink Holl (pictured above), just down the road on East 36th Street, stocks fresh and frozen meat and fish, Asian canned and packaged goods, condiments and spices, and beverages and teas.

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Korean Community

koreanCleveland's small number of Korean immigrants began arriving in Northeast Ohio at the end of the Korean Conflict in 1953. A larger number of Koreans arrived gradually during the 1970s and 1980s. These new arrivals were primarily students, physicians and engineers.

Since Cleveland's Korean immigrants arrived gradually, they settled all over the city, rather than in one central neighborhood. Korean culture is visible in the six Korean-American churches in the city, including St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church (pictured at left) in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. There are also a few Korean restaurants in town, such as the Korea House on Superior and E. 37th St., and via the Korean-American Association of Greater Cleveland.


Asia Food Company originally located on the corner of East 31st and St. Clair Avenue for more than 20 years has joined Asian Town Center's collection of businesses. It has transformed into a modern Cleveland's largest Asian supermarket.

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Vietnamese Community

vietnameseCleveland's 2,000+ Vietnamese residents began arriving in Northeast Ohio after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. Most of these immigrants settled in the Detroit/Shoreway neighborhood, along Madison, Franklin and Detroit avenues.

Today, Cleveland's Vietnamese heritage can be seen at St. Stephen's Church on W. 54th St., at the annual Tet celebration in February, and in the many Vietnamese restaurants in the city, including #1 Pho (pictured at left).


Minh Anh, Vietnamese Restaurant and Market, specializing in foods and imported items, is located at 5428 Detroit Road, Cleveland, Ohio, 216.961.9671

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Italian Community

italianImmigrants from Italy began settling in Cleveland around the mid-19th century, in an area then-called "Big Italy," around Woodland and E. 30th St. Most of these early Italian residents were grocers, bakers and shopkeepers. Very little remains of "Big Italy," but businesses, such as Gallucci's and Catallano's have their roots there.

In the late 19th century, a different group of Italians, settled in the area south of Euclid, near Mayfield, that we know still as "Little Italy." Many of these new arrivals were stonemasons who carved monuments for nearby Lake View Cemetery.

Today's Little Italy still retains the spirit of those first generation Americans.


Gust Gallucci's is a complete Italian food market, located in Cleveland's Midtown Corridor, halfway between downtown Cleveland and University Circle. Started 85 years ago by an Italian immigrant, Gust Gallucci, Gallucci's still sells a wide variety of Italian canned goods, fresh and cured meats, cheeses, wines, and housewares.

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Irish Community

irishThe Irish were one of the first ethnic groups to settle in Cleveland, drawn by the jobs created by the Ohio-Erie Canal and the Cleveland docks. The first Irish settled at Whiskey Island in the early to mid-1820s.

As work at the waterfront became more plentiful, hundreds more Irish immigrants arrived from Europe, settling on the near West Side in and around today's Flats. St. Malachi's, still an Irish parish, was the centerpiece of that neighborhood.

Cleveland still holds many reminders of those early settlers, in the many Irish surnames, the annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and our many Irish pubs.


The Irish Cottage (18828 Sloane Ave, Lakewood, Ohio, 216.221.6412) is a little building tucked away off of the street. The store stocks a host of Irish imports—both food and non-food items. Food offerings include jellies, jams, cookies, kippers, tea, and freshly baked scones.

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Slovenian Community

slovenianDuring much of the 20th century, Cleveland had the largest Slovenian community in the United States. Drawn to jobs in the steel mills, Slovenes began arriving in the late 19th century, settling in the Newburgh area.

Other enclaves of Slovenes included the St. Clair Avenue area (from E 30th to E 79th Streets) and the Collinwood neighborhood. Later, many of Slovenian descent moved out to Euclid, Ohio.

Prominent Clevelanders who claim Slovenian descent include Sen. George Voinovich and polka star Frankie Yankovic.

A small, but active, Slovenian community still exists in Cleveland. There is a weekly newspaper, Ameriska Domovino and a daily radio show in Slovenian.


Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House is a wonderful ethnic restaurant located near Lake Erie, Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House boasts a wide range of Slovenian dishes as well as other modern fare.

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German Community

germanMany early German residents in Northeast Ohio came from eastern states, descendents of those who came to the United States during the American Revolution.

The construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal in the 1830s brought an influx of first-generation Germans, many of whom settled in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, on Lorain Street in Brooklyn, and around Superior and Central avenues on the east side. Early German immigrants were skilled craftsmen, brewers, jewelers and tailors, among other occupations.

Cleveland's German neighborhoods are gone, but the city's German heritage can be seen at the West Side Market and at the Zion UCC (pictured) in Tremont.


The aroma of freshly baked bread, doughnuts, and fruit and cream-filled pies greets you as you enter Gertrude Bakery at 6506 Gertrude Ave, Cleveland, OH, 216.641.7582, in Cleveland's Slavic Village.

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Czech Community

czechThe Czechs are one of the largest and oldest of Cleveland's ethnic groups. These immigrants, made up of Bohemians, Moravians and Silesians, began arriving in the late 19th century. Early Czechs settled in a section of the waterfront we today call the Flats.

Later arrivals moved further out from the city where they could have a plot of land to grow vegetables, settling around Broadway and Fleet avenues. and near W. 41st Street and Clark Avenue (pictured).

Both of these areas still have a strong, minority Czech-American population. Czech culture can still be found at churches, such as St. John Napomocene on Fleet and Karlin Hall social club, also in the Slavic Village neighborhood.


The Seven Roses Deli (6301 Fleet Ave., Cleveland, OH, 216.641.5789) is located in a restored 19th century building in the middle of Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. It specializes in canned and jarred goods as well as kielbasa and other meats, prepared foods, and fresh baked goods.

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Croatian Community

Croatia is a southern Slavic region of Europe, a tumultuous region, especially in the 20th century. According to the 1990 census, Cleveland had the fourth largest Croatian community in the United States. These immigrants began arriving in the 1860s, settling with the Slovenes around St. Clair Avenue from E 9th to E 79th streets. Many of the early Croatian immigrants found jobs in the steel mills and machine shops.

A later wave of mostly young, highly educated professional Croatians arrived after World War II, fleeing the communist rule of Yugoslavia.

Today, Croatian culture is visible at the newly built Croatian National Home in Eastlake and churches, such as St. Nicholas, on Superior Avenue.

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Polish Community

polishCleveland's Polish immigrants started arriving in the mid-19th century, drawn by work in the region's steel and textile mills. With the Czechs, they settled in the area surrounded the Cuyahoga Valley, in what we now call Slavic Village and Newburgh Heights.

St. Stanislaus Church, founded in 1888 was an early influence on this community and helped to support new arrivals.

Polish is still spoken around Slavic Village, and food stores sell sausages, pierogi, and other Polish goodies.

The Slavic Village neighborhood celebrates its heritage each May Day with a parade and each August at the Harvest Festival.


Krusinski's Finest Meat Products (6300 Heisley Ave. Cleveland, OH) in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, makes spicy kielbasa, smoked polish sausage, bratwurst and knockwurst fresh daily as well as a variety of homemade pierogi. Polish food lovers travel from Cleveland and beyond for this corner grocery store's offerings. In fact, Krusinkski's supplies pierogi to several other area restaurants.

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Greek Community

greekCleveland's Greek community is a relatively small, but very close-knit one. Immigrants from Greece began arriving in Cleveland in the 1880s, settling around Bolivar and Ontario Avenues, in the area we call "Gateway" today.

Late arrivals, those in the early 20th century, settled in Tremont and founded the Church of the Annunciation (pictured), which still thrives today.

Many Greek immigrants became small business owners, opening coffeeshops, confectionaries, restaurants, and small groceries. A large percentage of these types of establishments are still owned by those of Greek descent.


Mad Greek Restaurant, 2466 Fairmount Boulevard Cleveland, OH, 216.421.3333

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Puerto Rican Community

Puerto Ricans make up the majority, about 85 percent, of Cleveland's Hispanic community. This group began arriving in the North Coast around 1945 to 1965, recruited to work in the area's factories and greenhouses. Early arrivals settled on Cleveland's east side, around Hough, Lexington, and Superior avenues.

In the late 1950s, however, Cleveland's Puerto Rican community moved to the near west city, around W. 5th to W. 65th, between Detroit Road. and Clark Avenue. A large number of those of Puerto Rican descent still call this area home.

Today, Cleveland's Puerto Rican culture can be found in the many Hispanic food stores on the near west side and the Puerto Rican festival, held each August.


La Borincana (2127 Fulton Rd. Cleveland, Ohio, 216.651.2351) is a family-run shop at the edge of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. They stock foodstuffs from all over the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The store carries a vareity of chorizo sausage, masa harina for homemade tortillas, dried cornhusks for making tamales as well as a diverse selection of produce.

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Places to Go and Things to Do

Click here for a list of other resources that may be of interest in exploring Cleveland.


Share Your Ideas

This listing of information about Cleveland’s cultural background, ethnic shopping and dining sources and other sites of international interest is a work in progress. Have some more ideas to share? Please contact us.