Vollick’s Bi-Rite Express: 40 years of service to Sheffield Lake
Most mornings for the last four decades, Dennis Vollick has brewed fresh coffee and is standing at the cash register at Bi-Rite Express on Lake Road ready to greet other early risers. For anyone keeping score, Vollick has completed this morning ritual some 200,000 times since 1979.
At a time in life when he could “kick back,” he chooses to keep at it. Why? “I like what I do too much.”
The Navy veteran who served in Vietnam began a career in the food service industry as manager of the now Giant Eagle in Avon Lake. “I was working six or seven days a week there and said to myself ‘If I’m gonna work this hard and this long, I’m gonna do it for myself.” With that, he cut a deal to become a Conveneint Food Mart franchisee and took over the store on Lake Road in Sheffield Lake.
Luck followed and he built his business to include six stores throughout Cleveland’s west side and western suburbs. During that time, he left the Sheffield Lake location to run the other stores but was lured back to Sheffield Lake by Elka Ioannidis, who ran Amber Oaks Restaurant with her husband on property adjacent to the store.
Vollick said he was in the process of consolidating his business effort, eventually deciding to focus on just the Avon and Sheffield Lake location, which became Vollick’s Bi-Rite Express.
He is a big booster of Sheffield Lake and its residents. “They are good, hard-working people,” he noted.
He does not limit his community activity to the store. Vollick served as Commander of the local VFW Post 8686 for 11 years, just stepping down last year. In that role, Vollick had a hand in supporting a number of community and school activities, about which he takes pride.
He’s also proud of another thing and that is that his family – wife Linda , son Jeff, and daughter Vanessa, along with two grandsons – work at the Sheffield Lake store. He recalled how he and his wife would bring one year old Jeffrey to work so they could get things done at the store.
Vollick acknowledged how the food industry has changed over the years and Bi-Rite has made changes in order to meet changing customer needs. For one, they make and sell a number of hot food items, many cooked by his wife. Vollick referred to it as the store’s “hot ticket item.” During the summer, they sell barbeque ribs that he cooks in the parking lot
They have started a home delivery service for older residents and have seen an increase in the number of people ordering food for special events – birthdays, reunions, holidays, picnics, and so on.
For Vollick, the work he does will always be about people – his family and the people who come in to the store and fill him in on the details of their lives while chatting at the cash register, or the ones who show up every week to shop or come in to purchase a warm dinner for their families. “It’s about finding our niche to help customers looking for a quick, easy meal or help with catering. We’re will be here for them.”
The store is open 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily and is located at 4786 Lake Road.