The market is nearing the end of its current stage in the 10-month plan to transition to a nonprofit organization.
CLEVELAND — On Tuesday evening, West Side Market Advisory Board and Consultant Ted Spitzer, spearheading the 10-month master plan to transition the market to non-profit ownership, finalized the mission, vision and values of Cleveland Public Market Corporation. This company will be the go-tos to run the non-profit when this is finalized.
The official vision statement is as follows:
Cleveland Public Market Corporation strives to make West Side Market the nation’s premier public market by meeting the changing needs of merchants, customers and the community. CPMC preserves the city’s tradition of public markets while making the local food system more accessible, equitable and diverse.
To know where the West Side Market is heading, you need to know its past. In our “Redoing the Market” series, we spoke to the owners of two of the oldest vendor stalls in the market about the current situation and where they see the market going.
“Vera’s Bakery was born almost 80 years ago. It was owned by a lady who made mostly Hungarian and Eastern European pastries, and then someone in her family took over,” says Beth Bowman , owner of Vera’s Bakery.
“My mother opened the stand in 1971. She loved this building, she loved the atmosphere. She loved serving people. I was lucky enough to follow in her footsteps,” says Diane Dever, owner of Irene Dever Dairy, Irene’s daughter. .
Bowman is not only in charge at Vera, she is also a member of the Market Advisory Board, leading the 10-month master plan to transition the Market to non-profit ownership. She, Don Whitaker of DW Whitaker meats, Tom Boutros of Boutros Brothers and Amanda Chucray of J&J Chucraj meats were chosen by Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, city officials and market consultant Ted Spitzer, each with a unique perspective on the market.
“It feels good [to be a vendor at the Market now] because a lot of things that have been overlooked for a while get attention,” says Bowman.
This includes new renovations. The floors of many vendors are now raised and heated, and sink upgrades have been made in some stalls. Market spokeswoman Jessica Trivisonno said booth renovations are about 1/3 complete, with more to follow this year and in 2023.
“We have a new sink, with a good drain so we can empty it, and another hand sink. Then behind that, where they’ve built from the wall, pipes for heating and air conditioning that we can have in our own separate booths,” Bowman explains as he shows us around his booth.
For providers who aren’t on the advisory board, like Diane Dever, the timeline for improvements raises concerns.
“You know, I think the sinks and floors could have waited. They keep telling us the elevators are coming, we’re kind of out of elevators, you know.”
We asked about it, and Trivisonno explains that the elevator replacements are fully funded as of now, but they’re working on a schedule to replace each one, with more to come in 2023.
Although Diane is wary of bringing in things like more prepared foods and alcohol to update the space, she and Bowman agree that every precaution should be taken to preserve the market’s original spirit.
“I hope everyone is healthy, first and foremost, and happy, and that customers realize we’re here to serve them, and consistently,” Bowman said. “It would be nice if not just during the holidays, but all year round that vendors and customers would take pride in the West Side Market and treat it as such.”
“I don’t want it to be a loft, I don’t want it to be a brasserie. I want him to have the memories that I had,” Dever says. “Coming in and knowing you might come over to Irene’s and see Joanne and Diane, or this guy.” We see the children who were small, and now they bring their children. That’s what it’s all about, that’s what it’s all about in this town.”
The advisory board also defined the following values at Tuesday’s meeting:
- Access to food and education
- Community involvement
- Community building
- Fiscal responsibility
The board will meet again in the coming weeks, where it is expected to appoint officers to the leadership positions of the Cleveland Public Market Corporation.
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