President Obama pays a visit to the West Side Market.

News Archive

On any given school day, you may see Saint Ignatius High School students in collared shirts and ties walking to the West Side Catholic Center to sort donations, heading into Urban Community School to tutor children, or investing in the literacy skills of students at The Bridge Avenue School. You may also see young men from Ignatius serving as voluntary pallbearers for a deceased member of the community who may not otherwise have them.

Outside of school time, you can also find Ignatius students mentoring youth at ten after-school programs supported by Ignatius. On Sunday nights, as they have without fail for the past 10 years, three Ignatius vans leave the campus stocked with food for and anticipated conversations with the homeless of Cleveland. Students can be found shoveling walks in the winter, and helping neighbors move donated furniture – sometimes into a new home for someone previously homeless.

It can be hard to find a parking space on West 25th Street on busy days at the West Side Market. Many people simply use their bikes instead of driving their cars. Now a new project has created additional bike parking within the district.  

 

The “bike box” is a bike parking corral fashioned out of an old shipping container. One of the leaders of this innovative project was serial restaurateur Sam McNulty, a cyclist whose newest bar, Nano Brew, celebrates Cleveland’s growing two-wheeled population with a full-service bike station inside of the bar.

 

The bright blue box, which is open and airy with a stylish wood floor, is located at Bridge Ave. and West 25th and contains parking spaces for a couple dozen bikes. 

The first time we saw our home-to-be, my wife Lynn Phares said, “This place would be perfect for house concerts.” This came out of the blue, but it made sense. We are both passionate about music, especially Americana and roots music. While living in Silver Spring, MD, we had been to a house concert and loved it. There is an immediacy that comes from being in a small, informal setting and listening to a live performer without the distractions and noise of a bar or nightclub. It’s like going to a tiny, friendly concert hall. Plus, you get a chance to talk to the artist and other people who enjoy the same kind of music. It’s a great way to experience music.

 A fresh crop of entrepreneurs is beginning to change the course of the road that runs through the heart of Ohio City. Having seen how how West 25th Street's success has turned the corner with Penzeys Spices, Crop Bistro and Bonbon Pastry & Café, they're pulling that momentum westward onto Lorain Avenue.

 

One way to lure that energy is with a steaming bowl of chili. Ian Enggasser did just that when he launched Palookaville Chili with a couple of secret recipes and boundless determination in April 2011. The move came on the heels of a 10-year odyssey through New York, Florida and San Francisco during which he played in bands, drove a taxi and worked in the film industry. Eventually, the cost of living on the West Coast spurred the Richfield, Ohio native's return to Cleveland.

 

On Friday, June 15th, Cliff’s Natural Resources hosted a day of service called Cliff’s Cares Day to help clean and spruce up Ohio City.  Hubbed at Fairview Park between West 32nd and West 38th Street, nearly 120 Cliff’s employees volunteered at six service locations set up throughout the neighborhood.  The projects included removing barbed wire from and painting the Kentucky Gardens fence, weeding and mulching the Fairview Park rain garden, sprucing up the Fairview Park baseball diamond, building and planting flowers in new planters at Fulton Foods and Vantage Place, and painting a house on West 50th Street.

Jim Bartolomucci, Vice President and Chief Risk Officer stated, “Cliffs' employees are committed to fostering community service projects across the Greater Cleveland area. We are delighted to collaborate with Ohio City Incorporated and help preserve a thriving community.”

This spring, Ohio City Shines, a community-wide initiative to improve the neighborhood, was launched. Its purpose is to create a more vibrant and welcoming neighborhood with an emphasis on participation from residents and stakeholders. The first project for the program was to train volunteers and hold assessments to determine what problems were in which areas, followed by clean-ups to address those issues. With help from Case Western Reserve and NPI, volunteers were able to use a spreadsheet to document blight and code violations that corresponds with a web application in which this data is entered.

Beth Mancuso remembers working in her mother’s garden as she grew up. She hated the weeding, it was boring and hot. “I’d put it off as long as I could, into the afternoon,” she laughs. “And by then it was even hotter.”

 

When she and her husband Al moved to Ohio City, Beth managed the St. Paul’s Patch Community Garden for eight years and began to garden in their own two-lot section near 45th and Lorain. “It’s quiet,” she explains, “and it’s taking care of those plants that I put in to grow to feed my family, so weeding became part of a bigger picture. It’s not a task in its own right, it’s part of the overall nurturing of the garden.”

 

The West Side Market is still the ultimate icon of local food, a place where many products are hand-picked or homemade, old-fashioned counter service still rules the day, and friendly small businesses anchor Ohio City while feeding all of Cleveland.

Or, as West Side Market Manager Christine Zuniga-Eadie puts it, “We’re so backwards, we’re forwards.” The market has changed, yet it remains a resource for the community.

Even as the market evolves, it continues to serve a critical role as a small business hub in the neighborhood. It is an incubator for 100-plus small, food-based enterprises, many of which – such as Campbell’s Popcorn and Orale – have expanded to other locations. 

Beth Mancuso remembers working in her mother’s garden as she grew up. She hated the weeding, it was boring and hot. “I’d put it off as long as I could, into the afternoon,” she laughs. “And by then it was even hotter.”

 

When she and her husband Al moved to Ohio City, Beth managed the St. Paul’s Patch Community Garden for eight years and began to garden in their own two-lot section near 45th and Lorain. “It’s quiet,” she explains, “and it’s taking care of those plants that I put in to grow to feed my family, so weeding became part of a bigger picture. It’s not a task in its own right, it’s part of the overall nurturing of the garden.”

 

Sam McNulty has a story he likes to tell. While traveling and drinking his way through Europe in his 20s, he saw someone crack an egg over a pizza in a small café in Italy.

“At first, I thought it was gross,” he says. “Then I tried it and it was delicious. When I opened Bar Cento, I thought, ‘We have to have a pizza with a fried egg on top of it.’”

These days, Bar Cento’s Sunnyside pizza, topped with provolone, pancetta, Blue Loon Farm eggs and black pepper, is one of the European-style restaurant’s most popular items. McNulty’s anecdote paints a vivid picture of Ohio City’s food scene. Drawing on cuisines from all over the world, it is nonetheless 100 percent authentic and local.

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