One of Northeast Ohio’s best-kept secrets is historic Valley City

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Located at the juncture of Routes 252 and 303—just 5 miles due west of Brunswick—Valley City is known for its scenic landscape, rolling hills, meandering waterways and a historic downtown of throwback shops and eateries.

By Patricia Nugent

Located at the juncture of Routes 252 and 303—just 5 miles due west of Brunswick—Valley City is known for its scenic landscape, rolling hills, meandering waterways and a historic downtown of throwback shops and eateries.

Though its size may be on the tiny side (25 miles square and a population hovering around 5,700), the town’s position as an adorable shopping, dining and recreation destination is mighty.

Consider this section your invitation to take a step back in time and explore the charming slice of Americana, a real Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

To get an overview, I sat down with Dave Smallwood, Rod Knight and Paul Schaefer, members of the non-profit Valley City Community Group.

Valley City’s Frog Jump Festival is slated for Sunday, July 21, at Mill Stream Park. It’s expected to draw about 4,000 people and more than 750 jumping frogs.

Frog Jumping Capital of Ohio
All the social happenings in Valley City are geared to entertain the whole family. Patterned after Mark Twain’s famous tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the annual Frog Jump Festival began in 1962.

This year it’s slated for Sunday, July 21, at Mill Stream Park, and is expected to draw about 4,000 people and more than 750 jumping frogs.

“Contestants can either bring their own frog or rent one from the group that volunteers to catch them before the event,” says Dave.

Last year, the winning jump was made by a frog named Peanut, who earned fame and glory by launching himself 11 feet, 10 inches in three jumps. The winner of the shortest jump, a misguided amphibian called Wartz, managed to hop away from the starting point and then back, for a distance of 0 inches, a record.

Attendees enjoy a midway of more than 60 vendors, games, bouncy houses, a petting zoo, food trucks, music and a beer tent. The festivities are overseen by beloved mascot Mayor Froggington.

The town has also earned a reputation for its Fourth of July Festivities, which include a parade with more than 110 cars and floats, live musical entertainment and one of the biggest fireworks shows in the area.

From June through October, people flock to the weekly farmers market from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the Train Depot.

To raise money for the Fire Department, the group runs a Street Festival Friday through Sunday, August 16-18.

And to put a cap on summer, Movie in the Park is held on a giant 30-foot screen at Mill Stream Park on Saturday, August 31.

Another standout event is Christmas in the Valley, set for Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8. The holiday soiree includes a tree lighting, singalongs, a visit from Santa and story time with Mrs. Klaus.

A Nod to the Past
Though the downtown is bustling with charming new mom and pop businesses, while you’re here don’t miss the historic ones, too, such as the 1895 Train Depot and Museum featuring historic memorabilia and artifacts.

“Train aficionados appreciate the train tracks and vintage train we have outside the museum to get a feel for what it was like back in the day,” says Rod.

Park Amenities Abound
The group also oversees ongoing improvements to the 27-acre Mill Stream Park, which include a playground, pavilion with kitchen, walking trail, pickleball courts, basketball court, baseball field and picnic facilities.

“Every year we see more people coming to our town, whether to sample the destination shopping or experience community events,” says Dave. “We’re pleased to be evolving into more of an inner ring city, conveniently close to downtown, yet with a distinct, small-town character. It’s not surprising to see how many new homes are being built in Valley City.”

Formed in 2016, the Valley City Community Group is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit focused on enhancing the quality of life in Valley City. To find out more about community events, donate or sign up to volunteer, visit

Blanc Slate Floral
One of the newest shops in downtown Valley City is Blanc Slate Floral & Event Design, specializing in wedding floral design and event planning.

The past 25 years, owner Shannon Swank has been a certified designer and become an in-demand event florist the last three years since dedicating herself to her business full time.

“I chose Valley City because it’s a great town where I live and it’s a nice growing community of caring people,” she says.

Weddings are the bulk of the business, Shannon and her creative team do approximately 70 events each year. They’re also involved in creating for baby/bridal showers, sympathy pieces and corporate events.

Consultations for your event are by appointment only. They’ll review photos of past events and ideas off Pinterest and Instagram to help create your unique pieces.

Blanc Slate also has décor items to rent, including floral chandeliers, vases, candles, stands.

“We stay in touch with the trends and turn a blank slate into the event you envisioned and more,” she says.

Blanc Slate Floral & Event Design is located at 6677 Center Road, Unit D, in Valley City. Shannon and her team are a preferred vendor at several locations in the area, including The Blue Heron Event Center, The Oaks in Chippewa, and Whitehall in Columbia Station. Call 330-416-2147 or visit

The BREW Kettle
The hotly anticipated Brew Kettle in Brunswick recently opened its doors to throngs of folks familiar and new to the locally owned maker of award-winning beer.

“Each of our locations has its own personality that reflects its community,” says Bryan Weber, who lives in Valley City and is president of the growing operation. “In Brunswick, the style is rustic and lodgey. We hired Zacharius Milling in Valley City to build a live-edge bar top from white oak. He filled in knots and imperfections with dazzling crystals, so it’s a work of art. We also hired Zazu Woodworks to create the tabletops from black walnut trees that came down in a storm. And the ceiling beams are from a 1700s tobacco farm in Kentucky that was torn down.”

The food is equally authentic. Bryan reports they smoke meats themselves, and also have evolved the menu to offer healthy salads and vegan options, but beer is the big draw.

“We are always expanding our award-winning Rajah line, introducing brews like Mango Rajah and Jalapeno Rajah just in time for summer,” he says.

They can take it all on the road as well, with food trucks and beer cooler trailers you can rent for special events.

The Brew Kettle is located at 5288 Center Road, in Brunswick. Other locations are in Strongsville, Canton, Amherst, Hudson and Mentor. Brew Kettle is connected to Topgolf Swing Suites and Engage Virtual Shooting Range to offer unique social pursuits. Call 234-803-9990 or visit

Cat’s Jazzy Junk
With a passion for bringing vintage style to any home, Cat Smith opened Cat’s Jazzy Junk 10 years ago to offer custom Amish-built furniture as well as lovingly refurbished pieces and antiques.

“We can build anything from a bread box up to kitchen islands, dressers, bars and entertainment centers,” she says. “There’s been demand for live-edge tables, which is a specialty of ours. Though farmhouse industrial and rustic chic are represented at our showroom, we can build whatever a client wants.”

Since she works directly with builders, the furniture pieces cost a fraction of what you’d pay at a regular furniture store.

“I partner with an importer who brings eclectic pieces from all over the world, including bleached furniture and architectural window frames,” she adds.

Getting there gives you the feeling this is not your average shopping experience. You take a rustic lane off Columbia Road, meander between two lakes, follow the signs and end up at the commercial space. You’ll find all things home décor to complement the furniture, from wall art to mirrors, dishes, charcuterie boards, wine racks, florals, pillows, candleholders and baskets. Cat also sells wooden wick Ashley Cole candles made by her daughter.

Cat’s Jazzy Junk is located at 280 Columbia Road, in Valley City. The showroom is open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 216-978-1892or

Coffee In the Valley
Celebrating its fifth anniversary at the center of downtown Valley City, Coffee in the Valley is more than a coffeehouse.

“Over time our sense of ‘place’ has evolved,” says Stephanie Miller, who along with husband Sean, owns the eatery.

“We’ve held cookie classes, hosted book clubs and knitting clubs, and even had a couple go on a first date here then get engaged here a couple years later,” she says.

The décor is intentionally mismatchy, with different seating configurations, long tables, sofas, easy armchairs and a bar. Groups love reserving the vault for a cool vibe.

In line with these authentic values, Stephanie says they chose their coffee purveyor, Crimson Cup, because it works closely with farmers from all over the world to create its five-bean blend.

Beverages include hot, frozen or iced coffee drinks, lattes, hot chocolate, iced tea, loose teas, chai lattes, matcha, Italian soda, lemonade and bubble tea.

Complimenting the drink menu, the shop offers muffins, cookies, pastries and scones daily, as well as a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. With fresh eggs, choice of meats, breads and cheeses, breakfast sandwiches are made to order. And the selection of lunch sandwiches includes grilled cheese and chicken pesto.

“We change our featured drink menu often, so people follow us on Facebook and Instagram to view our latest menu,” she says.

Coffee in the Valley is located at 6663 Center Road in Valley City. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Call 330-483-1287 or visit

Gandalf’s Pub & Restaurant
From traditional Irish and American comfort fare made in a scratch kitchen, to craft cocktails, live music, a festive outdoor patio and one of the best brunches in Cleveland, Gandalf’s Pub & Restaurant serves up sophistication in a historic late-1880s home.

Owners Sean and Michelle Lackey along with Executive Chef, Ed West lend a nod to his heritage with three kinds of boxtys—salmon, corned beef and veggie. For those unfamiliar with the culinary delight known as the boxty, it’s potato cakes topped with meats and/or veggies and sauce. Shephard’s Pie is another crowd favorite.

“Our classically trained chef likes to put a spin on each dish,” says Sean, who named his cozy eatery after his rescue hound dog. “We have six versions of artisanal mac ‘n cheese for Wednesday Mac ‘n Cheese nights. And our famous pub burgers were just named in the top 10 list on”

The Sunday brunch menu is eclectic and fun. Not to be missed: Irish Eggs Benedict or Supreme Fruity Pebbles Pancakes.

Upscale bourbon flights and inventive craft cocktails are also specialties of the house.

Now that summertime has arrived, Sean has put together a scintillating slate of entertainment on the patio. Mark your calendar for Lego Legros on Saturday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m.; Katie and OC, on Saturday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m.; and The New Barleycorn on Sunday, June 23, at 3 p.m.

Gandalf’s Pub & Restaurant is located at 6757 Center Road in Valley City. For reservations, call 330-483-1190 or visit

Keller Market and Café Bistro
As fourth- and fifth-generation farmers, the Keller family has made a name for itself over the past century for farm-to-fork meats and custom processing.

On its 130-acre farm, livestock freely roam the rolling pastures and are treated with respect.

“When you buy meats from us, you see the difference dignified care creates,” says matriarch Cat Keller, who’s married to Tom Keller. She’s proud of her kids, Shanna, Kayleigh and Kelton, and nephew Ryan Keller, who are also manning the operations. Ryan has been with the company for 25 years.

The two retail stores carry everything from beef and pork to lamb, goat, poultry and wild game processing.

“You can buy a single burger or 500 burgers in bulk,” she adds. “We have a viewing window for folks who like to watch their order being freshly processed. Our meats are corn fed for premium marbling and flavor. We take pride in feeding the community as an extension of our family.”

In addition to the meats, the stores offer one-stop shopping convenience with a delicious variety of fresh produce, charcuterie items, pastas, grains, breads and bakery items, condiments and snacks.

Cat has an infectious and generous spirit, so it’s only a natural she should expand to catering, too. Whole Hogg Custom Catering brings the best of the farm to weddings, grad parties and more.

Keller Meats is headquartered at 3739 Avon Lake Road in Litchfield , call 330-722-4501. Keller Market and Café Bistro is located at 320 South Court Street in Medina. Call 330-952-2084 or visit

KMS Beauty Lab
Now that summer is here, everyone wants sleek, shiny hair. Consider KMS Beauty Lab your hair transformation central.

“Brazilian blowouts and keratin treatments strengthen the structure of hair, diminish frizz, protect against external damage and seal the cuticle, says owner Sasha Vilimonovic. “The beautiful new look lasts three to four months and your blow-drying time is reduced by 50%.”

Sasha, a graduate of Brown Aveda Institute, traveled all over the country to learn more about new treatments and techniques. She opened KMS in 2020.

When it comes to summer hair trends, Sasha reports longer, sweeping bangs are red-hot and so are shaggy layers. Of course, blondes are having a moment, and even darker shades can be warmed up with some well-placed highlights.

“I’m also doing a lot of hair extensions to add volume and length,” she says.

A new nail tech, Halie, joins Sasha with a specialty of rubber-based gel overlay manicures, which are healthier than acrylics. The process treats and strengthens nails while leaving behind a beautiful effect.

KMS Beauty Lab is located at 6689 Center Road. For an appointment, visit or call 330-288-7000.

KMS Beauty Lab has several job openings for summer interns and full-time hairdressers. There’s also opportunity to own your space in the upscale salon. Call Sasha at 330-288-7000 to find out more.

Knotts Family Diner
In a quest to provide fresh, homemade dishes at a fair price in a friendly atmosphere, Jill Knott opened Knotts Family Diner 12 years ago in downtown Valley City.

“We were just going to see how it went for the first six months and now here we are,” says Jill, laughing.

Housed within a 150-year-old building, the diner’s décor is akin to a 1950s ice cream parlor, complete with checkerboard floors and vintage café barstools. It seats 50 and is open seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Everything on the menu, which changes often, is made by hand with locally sourced ingredients, like meats from Keller Meats and coffee from Red Cedar Coffee,” she says. “Probably our most popular dishes are the biscuits and gravy and country fried steak. We also serve different varieties of eggs Benedict and 17 types of omelets. Those with a sweet tooth love our cinnamon roll pancakes. For lunch, our half-pound burgers and wraps are always a hit.”

Inventing new dishes to suit the palates of diners is one of her favorite parts of the job.

“Newest to the menu is the Hillbilly Deluxe, a hearty burger topped with scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese on a biscuit, smothered in brown gravy,” she says.

Knotts Family Diner is located at 6699 Center Road in Valley City. Call 330-483-2008 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

The Peacey Agency - Farmers Insurance
For auto, home, life, commercial and Medicare insurances, Tricia Peacey and her team at The Peacey Agency serve the entire state of Ohio and does commercial work in Florida.

“This is a natural career for me,” says Tricia, whose team of agents includes Tina Nichols, Nicole Bridenthal and customer service representative Ashley Wayne. “I started from scratch here and becoming engaged in the community has been a wonderful experience.”

The energetic group has earned a rep for entertaining posts on TikTok and Facebook. A recurring star is Tricia’s 3-1/2-pound pup, Loki, who acts as an official greeter at the agency.

“Our motto is work hard, play hard,” she says, laughing. “This agency works with a large volume of business. We were recently named the number two Farmers Agency in the state for work with commercial accounts.”

The team excels in accessibility and education. They take the time to review coverages with each client, so they know exactly what they’re getting.

The extra effort is working. Here’s one of the many five-star reviews:

“Tricia is always there to help! She gets info back to you quickly and follows through with requests. She is an amazing agent.” —Deneen R.

The Peacey Agency – Farmers Insurance is located at 6677 Center Road, Unit E, Valley City. Call 330-483-5525 or visit for more information. Tricia is actively seeking new agents to train and set on a path to success.

Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria
Not many restaurants can claim a recipe so refined and superb that it took home awards from national and international competitions in New York and Italy.

Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria is an institution for anyone who loves a glorious pie.

Owners Chris Leckler and Adam Kravec know well enough not to tinker with the recipe, but enjoy introducing different topping variations, such as the newest “Honey Stung” Mac-N-Cheese pizza, loaded with crispy chicken, bacon and mac-n-cheese in an alfredo sauce finished with a honey sauce. Another new one that has crowd-pleaser written all over it is the Hawaiian Luau pizza, with ham, bacon, fresh pineapple and roasted garlic and onions in a sweet Thai chili sauce.

“For entrees, we’ve just introduced Shrimp Romano, a classic version of linguini tossed with a creamy Romano and white wine sauce, shrimp, applewood bacon, onions, garlic and grape tomatoes,” says Chris. “Over the years, even though we’ve considered ourselves a pizzeria first, we’ve stuck with recipes for other dishes that remain true to our European roots with from-scratch sauces.”

Salads are a draw, too, with organic, hydroponic lettuce locally grown, and they cater to vegans and those who follow a gluten-free diet, with cauliflower crust pizzas.

Their party room, for up to 40, has set the stage for local organizations and companies to hold memorable events.

Samosky’s Homestyle Pizzeria is located at 6738 Center Road in Valley City. Call 330-483-2000 or visit

Schaefer Plumbing
Paul Schaefer’s father Cy painted the motto, “Particular Plumbing Pays” on the side of his truck when he founded Schaefer Plumbing in 1955.

“It was a testament to how he felt about always going the extra mile and providing the highest-quality service to customers,” says Paul. “He lived by it, and we still live by it today. Three of our five plumbers are family, and we have two excellent young men who feel like family. We feel blessed to have a skilled and dependable team of experts that is so familiar with the communities we serve.”

From service and repairs to remodeling and new construction, this experienced team offers a full suite of services, including:
• Faucet repair and installation
• Tankless and tank water heaters
• Sewer and drain cleaning
• Sump pump and battery back-up systems
• Gas line installation and repair
• Backflow device testing, repair and installation

“Most of our work is residential, but we are also seasoned in commercial and municipal work,” he says.

The third generation, Paul’s son, Daniel Schaefer, and son-in-law, Adam Schiffman, are poised to one day run the operation and carry on the legacy.

Headquartered at 1900 Station Road in Valley City, Schaefer Plumbing services homes and businesses in the surrounding communities. Call 330-483-3600 or visit

The Wandering Goose Boutique & Shop
Downtown Valley City’s newest shop was welcomed in April with a snip of the ribbon. Opened in a stately 1865 home, The Wandering Goose Boutique & Shop is the brainchild of Gina Reale.

“I’m bringing together an artsy boutique that features all the precious things I love that I hope our shoppers will love too,” says Gina, who grew up in Brunswick and Valley City. “We celebrate unique, locally crafted items like lotions, soaps and cosmetics handmade by our staff, embroidered blankets, crystals, natural stones, jewelry and stuffed animals. Since we’re steps away from downtown restaurants, we hope to become a place people frequent after meals.”

The shop offers ample parking and a scenic back yard Gina plans to utilize for art shows.

“We also carry fascinating seasonal items such as Sow the Magic Seed Collection, bug catchers and magnifiers for kids, sunglasses, water bottles and loads of things that would make ideal hostess gifts,” she says. Since the boutique honors Gina’s family’s company, Goosefoot Acres, which makes a caffeine-free, herbal beverage called Dandy Blend, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of that on the shelves as well.

“I personally curate all the selections,” she adds. “If a customer asks for something new, I’ll find it.”

The Wandering Goose is located at 6829 Center Road in Valley City. Hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 440-665-2445 or visit the Facebook page for more information. Look for a list of upcoming summer events and art fairs.