Friday, July 19, 2024

‘Exuding warmth and selflessness:’ Edward Snow Jr., owner of 4th Street’s Eddie’s Market in Long Beach, dies

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Edward Snow Jr.—whose father created the Eddie’s Market brand that is synonymous with Long Beach culture and owns the last Eddie’s Market under the family’s ownership at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue—died of cardiac arrest at the age of 61 on Nov. 6.

Eddie, as both he and his father were called (or “Junior” if you were in the family before his father passed), began to work the stores—120 different locations since 1960—when he was in the 8th grade at the age of 14, continuing to expand his dad’s legacy. He leaves behind his wife, Romy, their five children (Timothy, Mynor, Celeste, Sabrina, and Michael) and four grandchildren—and, of course, the 4th Street community itself.

Pizza, bear hugs, craft beer, and the small business respect of Eddie Jr.

When it came to running into Eddie—charming, empathetic, chill-as-could-be—one would be hard pressed not to fall for his bright blue eyes, constant smile, and overall compassion, even if you were just a customer. And if you had the honor of becoming a regular, you would learn of the man’s long stretch of business history in Long Beach—and maybe even receive one of the gentle giant’s hugs, which customers and family members alike cherish.

“He loved his customers,” Romy said. “You look around and I know, for a fact, some of the products that are here only because a customer asked for it and Eddie found a way to get it… His spirit is throughout so much of this city.

That last tidbit is quite true: The Dos Por Uno Pizzeria inside the liquor shop at 16th and Long Beach Boulevard? That was the pizza brand Eddie Jr. created inside the various Eddie’s Markets across the city; it used to be his before selling them and the markets (minus, of course, the one on 4th Street). And it was at the 7th and Long Beach Boulevard Dos Por Uno location that he would meet his future wife, Romy, and swoon her with his cavalier forthrightness.

“All the Eddie’s have kitchens and every one of them was built by my husband and my father-in-law,” Romy said. “Him and the kids built the coolers, built the counters, and I was on a twenty-foot ladder painting the walls,” she said, pointing toward the north-facing wall of Eddie’s Market on 4th Street.

Then there was the Mama Mia’s Pizzeria brand, whose flagship shop at the southeast corner of 4th Street and Ximeno Avenue served the community for over a decade. 

But it wasn’t just his brands that were birthed out of Eddie’s Markets: Number 9—the pho shop that was a Retro Row staple for years before Little Coyote moved in—started inside the Eddie’s Market on 4th. Kidz on Coffee, the pizza-meets-coffee brand that eventually moved to Broadway and now resides inside JugBand at Broadway and Temple? Started inside Eddie’s Market on 4th. There was also a taco shop that eventually became a popup and, of course, Romy’s Italian deli.

This isn’t to mention Eddie’s influence on the craft beer game: While The Wine Country started off in the 1990s when it came to accessing some craft beer bottles, it wasn’t until Eddie took over the shop on 4th Street that one could get Russian River or Modern Times by the bottle unless they trekked to Signal Hill.

“It was because of his relationships with everyone,” Romy said. “Sometimes we have a larger wine selection than Ralph’s—and that’s because Eddie was so dedicated to getting what he could for his customers.”

Eddie constantly ‘exuded warmth and selflessness’

“Kids and dogs and family,” Romy said, “those were his ultimate weaknesses. Eddie rarely drank, never really partied or anything—it was his family and kids and dogs that truly made him light up.”

For Romy, there was a particular moment where she saw what she always knew—that Eddie was a constant display of empathy and warmth—in a random outdoor occurrence: For one 4th of July, the pair had opted to head to the Queen Mary’s famed firework display. 

While aboard the ship, a young boy—”Probably three-years-old,” Romy said—gave one look at Eddie, jaunted toward him, and wrapped his body around Eddie’s  leg. Laughing and coming down to the boy’s level, he asked, “Do you need a hug?” and gave the young kid one of his famous bear hugs. 

“This boy just buried himself in Eddie—and this was just some random kid who had to give Eddie a hug… A customer joking asked, ‘are you sure you didn’t want to divorce him  not even onces and I said, ‘Absolutely not!'” Romy said. “He was perfect. Genuinely. He was always exuding this warmth and selflessness. He would always come to work. Not matter what.”

And Romy isn’t kidding: Eddie openly lamented how he had to widen the aisles of his store in order to accommodate his wheelchair—but he did so nonetheless and showed up for work. His constant presence was layered; sure, he was there all the time, but he also left many surprises. Sometimes a product would be laid out for a customer without telling them until they noticed. 

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Or, for Romy, do the small steps in order to make life a bit easier—even though she didn’t know it.

“I know this sounds so ridiculous but you know the Ring cameras for your front door?” Romy said. “Well, I was trying to take it off to charge it and then I had to call my son and ask him and he said, ‘You need a key!’ I had never used a key before but then I realized Eddie would unlock it for me so I can easily remove it to charge… And these small things, all these tiny little things, are now just bigger examples of how great he was, how much he constantly considered me.”

That consideration wasn’t just the Ring camera lock. It would be having an array of her favorite drinks and snacks—sweet and salty—prepped for a random road trip he had. It would be creating a mini-oasis in their back yard so she could rest her feet while he tackled the kids. It would be randomly singing one of the many songs the two shared during karaoke (or, if the whole family was around, a guaranteed everybody-come-on-in-and-sing version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” one of his favorite artists and songs). It would be his hand randomly reaching out to her for no reason other than touch her, smile, and continue on.

“People ask me what I miss about him and there is no hesitation: Everything,” Romy said. “I miss every single thing about him. There was nothing…” Romy trailed off, tears building behind a bright smile. “There was sincerely nothing about that man I would change or say I didn’t love—and that is why I am here, behind the counter. It would be an absolute disservice to my husband to not come into work, to not assure customers we’re still here and we will be here. To not keep his spirit alive.”

And Romy, rest assured: We are thankful for your dedication to Eddie’s Market.

Eddie’s Market is located at 2444 E. 4th St

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I worked for Eddie in many of his stores he was a nice boss the pizza recipe that he had the best pizza I remember making everything from scratch pizza dough fresh every day gonna missed him Eddie rip🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  2. Beautifully written. EJ had a pure soul. And he will be missed. Love and prayers to Romy, his children, his sisters, all family and all friends who had the honor of knowing him.

  3. This is sad news! He was so wonderful to me and my family and our dog Koda. We miss him very much! May the warmest wind of heaven blow softly upon all his family and friends!🕊️🙏🏽

  4. I love this article about Eddie Snow. He was a great man. I always enjoyed talking with him at his 4th store. He would recomend good wines. And we talked about him and my daughter having diabetes and them living near each other. When I was told by his wife Romy when I came into their store that he had passed I just gave her big hugs Across the counter with no words that could express my sadness and tears. sending Big hugs and kisses to Romy and her family
    Eddie will be missed rip to Eddie

  5. Eddie was the man! I can say I probably saw him almost every single day for about 4 years. What a great and kind human being. Rest well, sir. You will be missed.

  6. Beautfully written… He was a very kind soul. Shopped at the 4th st location for many years. He really did make sure everyone was taken care of. Always had my fave wine and snacks.
    RIP

  7. I’ve been delivering craft sodas to Eddie for years and years. He has always been a great guy; so much fun… always trying new and fun things; great to chat with… always brightened my day every time I came. I collect bottle caps and one time he had some strange wine beverage with a pry-off bottle cap on top that I had never seen so when I was done with my delivery I brought it up to the counter and said “how much for this” and he said “just take it”. That’s the type of guy he was; just a great friend to everyone. I’ll miss him very much and always remember him!

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