Community spirit rekindled as West Side Market reopens

7:30 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It's the start of a new chapter at the West Side Market. The market reopened to crowds Monday after a fire damaged stalls and closed it for nearly three weeks of clean-up, the longest closure in its history.

"The history constantly evolves. Every day the doors open, every new person that steps in here," said Marilou Suszko. Suszko and Laura Taxel wrote a book in 2012 on the market's history -- "Cleveland's West Side Market, 100 Years and Still Cooking."

"Things constantly change. The fire changed some things, but if you look at what's happening here today, it's a little bit business as usual."

"It was nice getting up and going to work," said Don Whitaker, the owner of D.W. Whitaker's meats.

Sellers and shoppers are making up for lost time, seeing the silver lining in a sparkling market.

"They're a part of our family," said Carolina Martin, who says she's shopped her since she was a kid. Now she brings her grandchildren along. "It means things you can barely explain. It just means friends. Longtime friends. People who care."

Martin lived on market purchases from her freezer for three weeks while she waited for her favorite merchants to clean up.

"That's what this place is all about. The mom and pop feel," said Whitacker, who knows Martin by name. He offered to bring her meats over after the market's closed. "You don't get that in a grocery store. I think that's why you see this turnout here."

"I am so thankful that this is here in Cleveland," said Martin.
From soot to spoiled food, the fire cost up to $1 million in damage.

"I think they did a great job, it's clean, it looks like it did, prior to the fire," said Mike Pace.

"I think it's amazing, I wouldn't even have known there was a fire in there," said Sonsee Trubach, a first-time visitor.

Suszko and Taxel say it's the "still cooking" part of their title that counts.

"We knew that the story was ongoing," said Taxel "That's the beauty of writing a book about a place like this. The story is never done. The story is being created every day that the market is open."


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