President Obama pays a visit to the West Side Market.

News Archive

Boris Music purchased the Hansa Import House at the corner of Lorain Avenue and West 28th Street in 1979 and converted it into a Bavarian-style fortress. The defensive design was appropriate for the times, when vandals were a big problem throughout the neighborhood.

Now, Music sees the neighborhood finally growing to its full potential. He recently announced a $3 million plan for an extreme makeover of the Hansa House. It will be transformed into a European-style brewery, café and restaurant featuring Slovenia’s Pivovarna Lasko beer while continuing to serve as an import marketplace. 

A building addition to be constructed on the parking lot at West 28th will become Four Corners Restaurant. “We intend to have visiting chefs that will be rotated on a quarterly basis,” explains Music, adding that the chefs will represent a variety of European regions.

Like what the Flying Fig has to offer? Now Ohio City residents can take home some of their favorite ingredients at Chef and Owner Karen Small’s fresh food market, located in the restaurant.

Small says the inability for some residents to attend local farmers markets spurred the idea.

“I thought it was a nice complement to what we’re doing at the restaurant,” Small explains. We’re “providing some of the same ingredients we use at the restaurant so they can use them themselves.”

Since opening, Small has branched out to include fresh foods from different farmers markets.

Smalls boasts that all of the Flying Fig’s ingredients come from within 50 miles of Cleveland, including vegetables from the area’s emerging urban farms. “Right now, we have a lot of beets, grains and sweet potatoes.”

Fred Kent, President of the Project for Public Spaces, posed a provocative question to the audience at the Eighth Annual International Public Markets Conference last month.

“Could place-making be one of the transformative ideas of the 21st century?” he asked.

Think about it. Americans hunger for an alternative to the soulless pseudo-cities that sprawl throughout the ‘burbs. One reason why young people, families and empty nesters are moving back to urban communities is they offer a sense of place.

Yet speaking before an audience of 250-plus market leaders at the conference in Cleveland, Kent took the idea one step further. Public markets are the granddaddies of all place-makers, he said, bringing people together like big, irresistible magnets. So what if we used our public markets to build and enhance great places in cities?

Saint John’s Church at Church Avenue and West 26th Street has historically been a gathering place for the community and a living exhibit of its values.


Many of the founders of Cleveland worshipped and led discussions in the church. When escaping slaves needed refuge from an oppressive system, so viscerally embodied in slave hunters, the tower at Saint John’s was the last leg for the journey on to Canada and then freedom. When the city was hit with economic depression after depression, Saint John’s helped to feed and clothe those in need, and also made sure that they were included as community members.


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.