West Side Market Centennial Celebration Weekend!


This weekend marked the official 100th Birthday of the West Side Market here in my home sweet home, Cleveland. Kicking off the weekend festivities was the People’s Party at Crop Bistro, which is located right across from the Market at Lorain and 25th street. Created by Crop Bistro owner and chef Steve Schimoler, as well as many other local restaurant owners, The People’s Party boasted over 40 local vendors, and more than 1,000 people in attendance. Tickets were a deal at only $25 a piece,  especially since there were so many amazing restaurants to try! Proceeds from the event went to the Market’s Capital Campaign to help pay for renovations to the building. Bands like Crop’s very own Cream of the Crop, which Steve Schimoler is the drummer, rocked out in the main restaurant, while my dear friend DJ Peter Waters was keeping party goers dancing downstairs in the party room (the old bank vault!). I interviewed so many great local chef’s like Bac Nguyen of the Tremont restaurant Bac. His food was amazing (as always), and he discussed with us about his restaurant being the official “Chinese Restaurant” for The Christmas Story House!

With Owner and Chef of Bac, Bac Nguyen
Cream of the Crop!

A true testament of Girl Power right here in Cleveland are the ladies of Bonbon Bake Shop and The Pork Chop Shop. Let’s start with The Pork Chop Shop, which is owned and operated by Emma Beno and Alexia Rodriguez. Emma Beno is not only the only female butcher at the West Side Market, but she is the youngest vendor at the West Side Market! Love it! Then Alexia Rodriguez not only operates The Pork Chop Shop with Emma, but she is the new Executive Chef at Bonbon Bake Shop right across from the Market on Lorain. Bonbon Bake Shop is owned and operated by the super cool and talented Courtney McLaren Bonning. Courtney, along with her sweet and equally talented manager Becca Ritterspach have created such a fun, laid-back and cozy restaurant/bakery. Alexia joining the Bonbon team just goes to show sisters are doing it for themselves! These four women are so incredibly inspiring and kick-ass! Now seriously, go check out their shops!

Emma Beno and Alexia Rodriguez at the WSM Gala

Speaking of Female empowerment, I can’t say enough about ReHive Ale, the delicious new beer created by Chef Kimberly McCune Gibson and Ann Marie Larrance. ReHive Ale is Ohio’s first sustainable craft beer brewed by women. This beer pays tribute to chef Kimberly’s Geauga County roots as a beekeepers daughter. It has a really nice honey flavor, but not too sweet. Nor is it too heavy or hoppy. I fell in love with it and can’t wait to get my hands on some more! You can get more info on ReHive Ale and the women that created it at the site hungrybeecatering.com.

ReHive Ale

I had a great time getting to cover the event, and then getting to enjoy it as a Clevelander. But this was just the beginning…


On to THE party of the year- The West Side Market Centennial Gala! The event was hosted by Medical Mutual, along with Cleveland’s own Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer, and was held at the West Side Market. It was so much fun to be at the Market all fancied up! Many local chef’s like Chris Hodgson, Rocco Whalen and Britt-Marie Culey joined Nationally recognized chef’s Michael Ruhlman, Carla Hall, Andrew Zimmerman and Amy Bloomfield.

Chef Michael Ruhlman
Chef Rocco Whalen
Chef Chris Hodgson
Chef’s Michael Symon and Andrew Zimmerman
Chef Jonathan Sawyer’s Noodlecat and Chef Britt-Marie Culey’s Coquette
West Side Market Gala
Upper left: Councilman Matt Zone and his beautiful wife, Upper right: Sandwich from Noodlecat, Lower left: food from Momocho, Lower right Mary Manno Sweeney and her husband
West Side Market Gala


I still feel so honored to meet and interview Carla Hall. Not only is she an outstanding chef, but one of the kindest, most down-to-earth women I have ever met. She even joined my friends and I on the dance floor later in the evening! Make sure you check her out, along with our Michael Symon, on The Chew!

with Chef Carla Hall

There was so much fantastic, delicious food that I don’t think it would be fair to name one-or even a few! One of the culinary highlights of the night though was the debut of the Great Lakes Brewery’s Butcher’s Brew Beer. Created specifically for the 100th Birthday, this amber lager had just enough hop to it and tasty flavoring. Definitely my new favorite Great Lakes Beer (sorry Christmas Ale). When leaving the Gala we were given gift bags that had Butcher’s Brew packaged in a commemorative screen printed 22-ounce bottle. The artwork, designed by Christine Wisnieski, depicts the stone sculpture of an ox, whose head peers over the peak of the Market. Each bottle was actually hand-bottled by GLBC brewers!

GLBC Butcher’s Brew and commemorative bottle

Speaking of delicious spirits, one of the most anticipated parts of the evening was the birthday toast! Champagne was distributed to everyone at the party, and you could feel the love and pride of everyone in the room as they toasted this historical moment. Mayor Frank Jackson, along with Councilmen Joe Cimperman, Matt Zone and Kevin Kelly, talked about the progress both the West Side Market and Ohio City have made throughout the years. They thanked everyone that has been involved in putting together the Centennial celebrations that have been going on throughout the year, concluding with this event (cheers to you Amanda Dempsey!). Gala co-chairs Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer then took to the stage to give their thanks. Not going to lie, I was getting very choked up by the time they took to the stage. As they were giving their speeches, my own memories of buying smokies from the Market with my dad when I was a kid came to mind. Then I thought about how just this past Spring I did a news package for my broadcasting school class at the Market talking about this very event! This event that I now am an actual reporter, interviewing Mayor Jackson, Jonathan Sawyer and Carla Hall at. I’ve come a long way, baby! And just five years ago during my brief stint living in NYC I was missing being at home and going to places like the West Side Market. Wandering the streets of NYC wondering why Cleveland didn’t have restaurant row’s, Cleveland gift shops and things of that nature. Five years later all those things I hoped for and wanted have happened. I’m surrounded by love and support for my beloved city, something that I felt so deeply at the Gala. Alright, I’m getting choked up again….

Mayor Frank Jackson on the far left, top is Councilman Joe Cimperman, middle is Councilman Kevin Kelly and bottom is Councilman Matt Zone
Interviewing Mayor Frank Jackson
In reporter mode


After the Gala ended I headed over with my friend Charlene to Noodlecat, which is owned by Jonathan Sawyer, for the official after party! I’m craving the pork dumplings so bad right now, which was one of the many creations he had for the party. If you haven’t tried Noodlecat yet I highly recommend heading over asap!

Noodlecat after party

Needless to say I was exhausted by Sunday! I stayed low-key and enjoyed my home since I didn’t get to be there all week due to Hurricane Sandy. But I did get one last awesome weekend experience. I finally had a chance to sit and enjoy the new December issue of Glamour, one of my favorite magazines. For those that don’t really know me, I am a magazine addict. I subscribed to Glamour and few other magazines for years, and currently own the first 15 years of InStyle. I am also currently a Glambassador for Glamour Magazine. Ok, now that you have a little background you’ll know why this is big for me. So anyways, sitting and enjoying the December issue and I decide to Tweet Glamour about how much I love the new issue and I included Editor-In-Chief Cindi Leive on the Tweet. She truly is one of the best magazine editors EVER. I feel like she saved Glamour after the direction the prior editors had taken it. Anyways, not much later my phone lights up and there it is-a Tweet to my from my shero Cindi Leive! My weekend felt complete.



So that was life with me this weekend, stay tuned for what’s next! xo

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Leah, just want to say that I loved reading your post on the West Side Market Centennial Gala. As the event planner for this party, I have to say that your experience makes all the hard work worth it. Thanks for covering it and getting me chocked up 🙂
    -Andrea Wedren, Boom


    1. Leah* says:

      You are so welcome!! You and your team did an amazing job with the Gala! Seriously it was THE party of the year. I look forward to meeting you in the future and attending other parties you plan. 🙂


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