After publicly worrying about the fate of Elmo and Big Bird during a campaign rally for 9,000 at Cleveland State University on Friday, President Obama made an unscheduled stop at the city's iconic West Side Market at 3:20 PM. Open since 1912 in a city-owned building that has soaring vaulted ceilings, the public market celebrates its centennial next month. The President made his way through the vast collection of stalls, chatting with owners and sampling treats, and spending $40 on his local food spree.
The President walked away with a big haul of specialty meats--a half pound each of mild and BBQ beef jerky, and 20 "smokies." But his first stop--no accident, the President said--was at Michelle's Bakery, where he ordered one piece of pumpkin cheesecake ($2.95), one Danish butternut loaf ($6.95) and one loaf of zucchini bread ($6.95).
"It is no coincidence that I’m stopping at Michelle’s bakery," President Obama said. "I just want to point that out. And she spells it the right way, with two Ls. That’s the correct way."
Speaking to the owner as he leaned against a glass case, the President asked "How are you? Good to see you. So Michelle, when did you get started with this?"
The President insisted on posing for a photo with Michelle, in front of her properly spelled sign.
The President stopped to greet more people waiting for him, where he did the requisite hand-shaking, high-fiving and baby-holding before moving through the historic building to chat with proprietors at Turczyk's Meats and the adjoining Larry Vilstein's, as well as Christopher Bakery and Edward Badbuster & Son.
Not all the vendors were thrilled that Eater in Chief was visiting, which required a Secret Service lock-down of the market. The proprietor at Rolston Poultry grumbled to poolers that the President was flatlining his sales.
And when the President stopped by and asked how business was going, the chicken man was honest.
"Terrible since you got here," he said.
The President "didn't appear amused by the sentiment," noted pool, and he quickly moved on.
The West Side Market's origins date to 1840 as an open-air marketplace, and it has operated indoors since 1912.
Somewhat coincidentally, since he discussed Mitt Romney's war against the Muppets at both his campaign stops on Friday, the President ran into a woman at the market wearing a Muppet t-shirt.
The President was rolling in his motorcade for the Cleveland airport at 3:55 PM. His most recent food adventure was earlier this week, when he delivered six pizzas to his Field Office in Henderson, Nevada. In Madison, Wisconsin on Sept. 22, he also enjoyed a meat & greet with locals.
The visit to Cleveland came after a rally earlier on Friday in Vienna, Virginia, and concluded a two-day swing-state junket following Wednesday's Presidential Debate. The President hits the campaign trail again on Sunday, traveling to California for a multi-day visit.
Info: The West Side Market is located at 1979 West 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113. Phone: 216-664-3387.