Merchants begin preparing their shops for West Side Market reopening on Feb. 18

CLEVELAND - As city officials stood at the rear of the West Side Market Tuesday announcing the Cleveland landmark would reopen for business Monday, Feb. 18, vendors were already busy in the background preparing their stands.

Susan Owens works at Judy's Oasis and got the call from the stall owner late Tuesday morning.

"She called me and asked me if I could come down and get a start on it."

She was busy disinfecting the cases where the food will be displayed. As part of the process before reopening, the city is requiring all vendors to clean and disinfect all food contact surfaces.

The Cleveland Department of Public Health will conduct a final inspection before each business is allowed to reopen.

Owens said vendors are anxious to open, but will need the time.

"We've got a lot of orders we've got to place get our paper products all in order and registers and everything," she said.

Narrin Carlberg owns Narrin Spices & Sauce in the market. Since she doesn't have a storage locker in the market's basement, she keeps all of her product in her display cases so she lost everything in the fire on Jan. 30. She said just as tough of a hit was losing Super Bowl weekend, which for her, is one of the best weekends of the year.  

"And I only have liability so I lost a lot more than I was hoping," she said.

Like all of the business owners, Jonathan Seeholzer owner of noodlecat came back to an empty space.

"Excited to get back in, get set up, start working," he said. "Unpacking everything and put it back together basically."

The hit for him over the last two weeks was eased somewhat by his other businesses.

"We have two other restaurants downtown, so we were fortunate enough where this wasn't our only thing to do," he said. "For our noodlecat downtown compared to this, it's about 14 percent of our sales so it's a big chunk especially this time of year."

Narrin Carlberg, though, found her eyes wondering around the market, seeing it in a new light.

"It's beautiful. The walls are really nice and clean, and it looks very bright. I really like all the detail that you now see that you didn't see before," she said.

Cleveland fire officials say the cause of the fire remains undetermined while some electrical components are looked at further by investigators.

Officials said to successfully reopen on Feb. 18, several things will need to happen, per Cleveland Department of Public Health:

- all food contact surfaces will need to be thoroughly cleaned
- basement walk-in lockers/shelving will need to be sanitized
- walls and floors must be thoroughly scrubbed
- all food stored in the basement must be thrown out

The fire at West Side Market broke out around 2:20 a.m. causing damage to several stands inside.

It cost approximately $276,000 to clean-up the facility over 13 days.

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