West Side Market offers pleasant alternative to supermarket

Ben Plassard

Customers browse aisles of fruit and vegetables at the West Side Market in Cleveland Monday. The market sells produce as well as meat, fish and pierogies. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The city of Cleveland is as diverse as any other major city in America, and no area of Cleveland reflects this more than the Ohio City neighborhood.

Located on Cleveland’s West Side, the Ohio City neighborhood is home to 15 ethnic groups and more than 10,000 people. At the center of this neighborhood is the West Side Market, known to be the hub of Ohio City.

The West Side Market, located on the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue, is the alternative to Tops and Giant Eagle. Opened in 1912, the market offers a vast array of meat, fish and produce, all at cheaper prices than a major supermarket and all handled with love and care by the vendors themselves.

The market boasts more than a hundred different merchants, all knowledgeable about their products and all proud of what they do.

“At the market, you are dealing with the owner, and his ideas and his products,” said Vince Bertonaschi, owner of Vince’s Meat and a 22-year veteran of the market. “Here things are done the old way, with the owner knowing everything about his product. It is not like that at a retail market.”

That the market is centered in one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhood’s is also one of the reasons it is so special. It caters to every kind of ethnicity that makes up the neighborhood, something that can be attributed to the longevity of the market.

“The market is like Cleveland,” said James Glending, commissioner of Cleveland’s Division of Convention Center and Stadium and Markets. “There are so many ethnic groups that the market mirrors the city of Cleveland.”

West Side Market

1979 West 25th St.

Cleveland, OH 44113


The market is also a way of life, as generations of families have called the market home. Rich Gray, who works at Ehrnfelt Walter, a meat vendor, carries on the family tradition started by his great, great, great grandfather. Gordon Fernengel, of Fernengels Meat, and his family have been with the market for 67 years now. He said that it is the choice that keeps the customers coming back.

“There is more variety here than in a grocery store,” Fernengel said. “The grocery store has what you see and that is it. Here, you can see it again and again at different vendors before you choose what you want.”

Glending also is quick to mention the market is not just vendors and food. The West Side Market Cafe is a bistro style restaurant located in the meat and fish side of the market, and the market also has Johnny Hotdog, Cleveland’s oldest hot dog stand. Glending also has plans for the market itself.

“I would like to see expanded hours, especially during the summertime,” Glending said. “I would like to see some sports figures, a band or TV personalities during this time as well.”

Anything that is done to the market can only improve its standing in the community. The market has survived for almost a hundred years and shows no signs of giving in to chain supermarkets anytime soon.

“This is the original supermarket,” Fernengel said. “People like it. They like the fun and the people and the choices. And if they don’t, they can go back to Giant Eagle.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Ben Plassard at [email protected].