In 1891 Fritz Miller opened a small grocery store named Miller’s Grocery located on the corner of Sprague Avenue and Helena. This was a flourishing neighborhood on the main East-West thoroughfare (highway) through Spokane, only 1.5 miles west of downtown.
At about 1925 a man named Klevins opened a meat market on the east side of Miller’s Grocery naming it Klevin’s Meat Market. In the mid 1940’s Otto Judd purchased the grocery store and meat market and renamed the store Judd’s Market. Mr. Judd removed the wall between the two businesses making it one operation. At this time in history. this was considered a large neighborhood market. In 1974 Spokane won the honor to host the World’s Fair. At this point in time the East-West Freeway was completed to accommodate the additional traffic traveling in an out of the city. Sprague Avenue was no longer the main highway through Spokane.
Otto Judd operated the market until 1975 where he retired and sold the market to Mac MacCormack. MacCormack renamed the market Mac’s Market. Spokane was now on the map and population was growing at a swift pace. Mac owned and managed the market for only a year when he became ill and died soon after. Mac’s wife then sold the market to a gentlemen named Tom Peterson. Tom renamed the store Tom’s East Sprague Foods. Tom owned the business until 1984.
The east Sprague neighborhood had begun to decline, and had developed a bad reputation as a high crime and drug area. The market was in disrepair as well and was in need of updating. The most amazing fact, in the history of this market, was that the doors had never closed to business. In fact the original store had now been in business for 93 years.
Clyde Sonnenberg, having previously worked as a meat superviser for Albertson’s, bought the market in 1984 renaming it Sonnenberg’s Market. He began the arduous task of updating equipment, cases, refrigeration, shelving and the exterior.
In 1989 Clyde Sonnenberg purchased the building to the East side of the market, which was once home to Frisby Jam Company. He removed the brick wall between the two buildings expanding the market to about 10,000 square feet. He also increased the meat cases from 16 feet to 54 feet, added a service deli, a produce table, another larger cooler and an immense freezer. At this time he changed the name from Sonnenberg’s Market to Sonnenberg’s Market and Deli Inc.. When he purchased the market in 1984 there were 3 employees, this included a man that had worked in the market over 40 years, however the store now employed 10 full time employees.
Clyde’s wife Lucy left her job as a deli supervisor at Albertson’s in late 1989 and joined the business. Lucy developed a menu for catering to provide more opportunity to expand the operation. Some of the largest events were picnics for STA (Spokane Transit Authority) for as many as 1000 people. Over time there were numerous catering events including: Weddings, Funerals, Open House Parties and Holiday Events.
Sonnenberg’s “old fashioned” service meat counter, low meat and produce prices proved to be a winning combination. Some of the products made at Sonnenberg’s include: Sweet & Hot Italian and German Sausage, Ham, bacon and Beef Jerky. Another great value and very popular items are the custom Meat Packs that include many sizes and varieties of meat packaged to order. Aged Prime Rib (cut to order) at the holidays, can surpass 6 tons (12,000 pounds).
The East Sprague neighborhood began improving in image in 1998. With the help of local business owners, neighborhood assistance and police enforcement, civic pride began to return to the area. Restoration of many older homes and clean-up of the neighborhood helped the image of the East Sprague community. Sonnenberg’s was attracting customers from many parts of Washington State and Idaho. Even Alaskan customers called and ordered meat to be shipped.
In 1999 Clyde developed a recipe for New York Style Italian Sausage (a fully cooked coil of sausage) creating an exciting new product to merchandise. He began selling it at the popular fair called Pig Out In The Park, in Riverfront Park (downtown). The tasty sausage grilled with onions, peppers, and spices on a roll, had proved to be astounding in popularity. The New York Style Italian Sausage was acknowledged nationwide, when it was given recognition, in a very positive article, in the National Magazine: The Rosengarten Report (subtitled: Foods that Make Me Swoon). Sonnenberg’s sells over 2500 pounds of sausage in an average week and ships orders nationwide.
By the year 2001 there were now 25 full time employees and time had come to enlarge the store again. Clyde expanded into the building on the east side of the store, creating a larger office and storage area. Another large refrigeration cooler was erected to handle the additional meat purchases, becuase quantity buying was a strategic opportunity to keep the meat prices as low as possible.
With the store having been in business since 1891, Sonnenberg’s Market & Deli along with the help of their greatly appreciated employees, strive to provide old fashion customer service, quality product, and some of the lowest meat prices in the Spokane and surrounding area to our valued customers.