West Side Market, which has been a staple in Cleveland for over a hundred years, has seen better days. Multiple vendors have been leaving the market due to the decreasing number in customers, high rent prices, and maintenance. Most recent vendor of 36 years, Turczyk’s Meats, blamed the city and took their business elsewhere. Other vendors such as Vince’s Meats, Apple Cured Meats, Annemarie’s Dairy, and Avant Gardens have already left.
After chef Rocco Whalen heard the news, he wanted to help improve the market’s economy. Whalen states,“If vendors are leaving, that means there’s a problem with their profitability. We want them to be profitable, we want them to succeed, we want the market to continue to grow.” Whalen has ideas to partner with the city for four years to help give the market “the opportunity it deserves.”
Whalen is the head chef and owner at restaurant Fahrenheit in Tremont. He owns branches in Charlotte, N.C., Quicken Loans Arena, and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Being born in Cleveland, he states, “some of my best memories are from the West Side Market when I was a little boy, and going from stall to stall.”
His plans included the addition of an advisory board, as well as implementing food stalls, entertainment, and a brewery with occasional tours.“Give people a reason to go, play, stay and spend,” Whalen states, “That’s all I’m looking to do.” He expresses his passion to help the city grow stating, “you go to Milwaukee, you go to Cincinnati, you go to Charlotte, you go to some of these markets and they have wonderful community food halls. Why can’t we?”
His idea has been getting positive responses from many across social media. Some vendors have already said they would be on board if Chef Whalen were to partner with the city. One vendor even texted him and stated, “…If the city let you run West Side Market I would be a booth in immediately.”
The city has said there are things developing behind the curtain but has yet to openly make a statement.