CLEVELAND - Customers flocked to the West Side Market on Monday when it reopened for the first time since a fire damaged the historic landmark.
"It's so fun to see everybody and they're so excited," said Wellington resident Tina Biltz, who stopped by the market for the first time in more than 20 years to show her kids.
"I like it. It was the fire that brought me here, all of the hype. So I thought I'd come up and check it out," said Akron resident Annie Graham, who had never visited the Market before Monday.
Vendors said there was four times the number of people than on a normal day, but the President's Day holiday helped business even more. There were shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in nearly every aisle and long lines at most booths.
"It was just wild today," said Diane Dever, a market vendor. "Everybody took their time, they were patient and it was just absolutely fantastic."
"Today was unbelievable," said Rob Pilch of Vera's Bakery at the market. "It was as busy as Christmas."
Vendors said they saw many familiar faces, but served many newcomers too.
"Everybody came out, supported us, it was really nice," Dever said.
"It's just a fun place to come," said Mike Kaplinger, a Boston resident who grew up in the Cleveland area and came to the Market Monday while visiting family. Kaplinger fondly remembers visiting the market as a child.
"I always ended up getting a special treat, whether it was a dessert, a pastry or a pepperoni stick with my dad," Kaplinger said.
Vendors said they're grateful for a new beginning and eager to watch the market thrive again.
"Words can't explain how thankful we are for what's happened today," said Tom Kearns, a vendor at the market.
The market is open Monday and Wednesday from 7a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.