A West Side Tradition Since 1933
Franz Stanitzek, who was a butcher by trade, immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1923 in search of a better life. Soon after his arrival at Ellis Island, Franz made his way to Grand Rapids, Michigan to reunite with family and adopted the name Frank. In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, Frank married his wife Anna, and they opened Frank’s Market at 750 West Fulton. Frank and Anna settled on the West Side of Grand Rapids and raised their 3 children: Frank II, Marian and Karl.
During World War II German immigrants often faced hostility and suspicion. Neighbors who were outraged at Germany’s war crimes tarred the windows at Frank’s Market in 1939 because of Frank and Anna’s German heritage. Frank and Anna persevered and continued to run the market. Their next challenge was a fire in the basement of the store that nearly destroyed the business and forced it to close for 2 years during its reconstruction. Frank and Anna remained resilient and did not give up. With the help of family, they ran the market for another 25 years.
In addition to helping at the market, 10-year-old Frank II delivered the Grand Rapids Herald newspaper throughout the West Side on his bike. Frank II created relationships with many of the people he met and had a gift for remembering their names. Frank II’s strong work ethic, along with his physical talent, contributed to his outstanding football career. He received many accolades for his football prowess while playing guard for Catholic Central High School class of 1953. His athletic ability created interest and scholarship offers from several universities. Frank II realized his childhood dream and attended the University of Notre Dame. He played football for the Irish and graduated with a business degree in 1957.
Frank II, with the help of his sister Marian, took over the family business in 1958 as his parents struggled with failing health. Business slowed as suburban grocery store chains increased, and unfortunately this era contributed to the closing of many neighborhood stores. Frank II persevered. In the true spirit of the West Side, a fellow neighborhood butcher helped Frank II fine tune his kielbasa recipe. Soon Frank’s kielbasa became the best selling item at the store, and the business flourished again.
Frank II was devoted to his business and his family. He married his high school sweetheart Peggy Rademacher, and together raised 8 children all of whom worked at the market. Frank II knew his customers by name, enjoyed visiting with them, and epitomized the expression “customer service”. Many customers recall his custom of giving away apples; others remember joining him for a can of beer out back.
In 1993 after 35 years, Frank II retired from the market, and son Fritz took over the family business. Fritz soon remodeled Frank’s Market, developed a few new customer favorites, and continued to provide kielbasa to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation customers. After 86 years at the same location, Fritz made the difficult decision to relocate Frank’s Market. The change was made to benefit loyal customers with parking and accessibility. As a 3rd generation owner, Fritz recognized the responsibility of preserving Frank’s Market for the future while remaining on Fulton Street.
Frank I’s great-grandsons Joe and Mitch currently represent the 4th generation of family at Frank’s Market. They have accepted the challenge of carrying on the West Side tradition of Frank’s Market, providing quality meats and excellent service to customers.
The Frank’s Market family would like to thank the countless loyal customers that have contributed to our success for over 86 years. GO IRISH!