--By Allison Pinkerton, Correspondent
When customers call Ron Herman at Herman's Market in Venice and ask for ostrich, he tells them he doesn't carry it. He can offer them rabbit or quail, however.
They can even purchase alligator if they're brave enough.
Ron Herman opened Herman's Market with his wife Marilyn in 1980. For 31 years, they have offered fresh meats, pies, soups, salads and other homemade goods. Two of their most popular items, however, are the dogs and sausages Herman's grills in the parking lot on Saturday afternoons.
"It's grown to be quite a monster," says Marilyn of the event. The parking lot overflows on Saturdays, and cars are lined up down the street.
Herman's isn't just a local hangout; it's a delicatessen destination.
Marilyn says tourists come into Herman's to buy alligator almost everyday, while locals turn into regulars because they've heard about its' reputation for fresh, all-natural meats.
Marilyn doesn't know when she and her husband plan to retire. Ron, 75, jokes that he'll still be working in thirty years.
It seems customers would be stoked about that.
Stephanie McHenry, a Herman's regular who has been frequenting the market for ten years, buys meat to feed her four sons. She says she appreciates the Market's quality meat and low prices.
"I don't buy my meat anywhere else," she says.
This loyalty doesn't stop with the customers. Sharon Rola has worked at Herman's for almost 22 years, commuting from Port Charlotte each day. Rola bakes the pies, often catering to the frequent requests transplants have for the foods they ate in their hometowns. Once, she had to figure out how to bake Shoofly pie, a Lancaster, PA favorite. "The pies are wonderful," says customer Gordon Myse.
Rola comments on Herman's homey atmosphere, and says it extends from the work environment to the customers.
"It reminds them of years gone by," she says. "We all want what's familiar to our area."
Too bad all of America can't fit in one store, she adds with a laugh.
Too bad not every city has a Herman's.