ORBAN'S FRUIT AND FLOWERS was founded in 1914 by Martin and Mary Orban. The first greenhouse was located near the intersection of Union and East 72nd Streets. During this time, the couple sold flowers both at the greenhouse and at Mary Orban’s candy shop at East 90th Street and Buckeye Road.
In 1921, the Orban’s moved their floral business to a new location at 11520 Buckeye Road in an area known as “Frog Town,” named for its swampy environment. This location brought the business into the heart of Cleveland’s HUNGARIAN community, one of the largest communities of ethnic Hungarians outside of Hungary at the time. The company became very involved in the community, working with local funeral homes and churches to provide flowers. The Orbans also employed Hungarian immigrants, who helped communicate with their customers.
In 1948, Martin and Mary Orban moved to California to grow oranges and sold their flower company at Buckeye Road to Edythe and Edward Wrobel. Edythe Wroble had worked with the company since she was 13 years old, knew the customers well, and could speak fluent Hungarian.
As the flower market changed, with more flowers being imported from California and Florida, the Wrobels adapted their business. They converted the growing greenhouse at the rear of their building to a display room, storage cooler, garage, and elevator. The Wrobels also began creating elaborate window displays for the holidays, which attracted customers from the road and sidewalks. In the mid-1970s, Orban’s Fruit & Flowers was one of the largest floral operations in the city.
Over time, the Hungarian population in Frog Town dispersed and relocated to the suburbs. Despite community changes, Orban’s remained at their location on Buckeye Road in 2015. The current owner, Edward Wrobel, is the son of Edythe and Edward Wrobel, and joined his parents’ business in the 1970s. The company continues to provide the Cleveland area with flower and fruit arrangements for all occasions.
Jennifer Graham, Western Reserve Historical Society
Cleveland Plain Dealer