What’s the story on your plate? It’s a question more people have been asking in recent years as interest and awareness in exactly what they’re eating and where it came from has grown. In Cleveland, the West Side Market has provided a key connection between patrons and product for over 100 years. That living tradition has been threatened by damage sustained in a fire at the market on January 30.
While no lives were lost in the fire, severe smoke damage has kept the Market House closed. Local businesses have been forced to seek out alternate suppliers and many of the market’s vendors are without a source of income. The Produce Building, a separate structure, reopened on February 1, yet the scant traffic cannot provide vendors sustainable revenue. Market cleanup and restoration efforts are ongoing, but no reopening date has been announced.
At the West Side Market, the familiar faces behind the stalls are as much a part of the experience as the food. Over 100 local vendors, many of whom have maintained West Side Market booths for generations, have been affected by the fire. While all vendors have liability insurance, this does not account for much of the lost inventory, equipment, packaging materials, and business interruption. Suppliers are freezing vendor accounts and rent is due.
[photo credit: Plain Dealer]
What can you do?
- Iron Chef Michael Symon has teamed up with local web development firm e-Business Express to launch a website benefiting vendors affected by the fire. Through donating to The Michael D. Symon Foundation, Inc., you will be helping out those vendors that desperately need assistance.
- The CLE Clothing Company is selling a limited edition “Support the West Side Market” t-shirt. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Market Vendor Relief Fund.
- Ohio City neighbors Market Garden Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery will offer special brews to support relief efforts. Market Garden is offering a Market Recovery Lager with 20% of proceeds benefiting the West Side Market. Great Lakes will revive their Butcher’s Brew, which was created to celebrate the market’s centennial last fall. Expected to be tapped this April, all Butcher’s Brew proceeds will be donated to market relief.
- Cash Mob founder Andrew Samtoy is organizing a cash mob for the market’s reopen. Cash mobs encourage support for local and small businesses en masse.
- Support West Side Market vendors who have other locations.
- Be on the lookout for grassroots fundraising opportunities. Businesses like Happy Dog and the Five O’Clock Lounge are among many who have hosted benefit events.
A few years ago, I wrote about why the West Side Market is my favorite hometown treasure. With the help of the community, this beloved landmark will continue to tell the stories of its city through our favorite medium, food. After all, if you can make it 100 years in Cleveland you’ve got to be tough.
For Further Exploration
The Plain Dealer’s West Side Market Centennial Guide