Long-awaited Clifton Market to celebrate grand opening this weekend

It's been three years since planning began, but Clifton Market had its soft opening on Sunday. The store, which is housed in the former Keller’s IGA on Ludlow Avenue, will celebrate its long-awaited debut this weekend with three days of festivities.

Since Keller's closed in 2011, Clifton has been without a fresh food grocery store. The neighborhood is considered a food desert because residents don't have ready access to fresh, healthy foods. For many, going to the grocery store is an all-day effort that includes changing buses and carting bags of food to and from the store. 

The $5.6 million project is a result of a collaborative community effort that was made possible by investments from about 1,400 community shareowners. Community investment totaled $1.8 million, with the remaining funds coming from financial organizations like National Cooperative Bank and Shared Capital Cooperative.

The significant fundraising effort was needed to remodel the space, which had been gutted and stripped of copper before the project began.

Clifton Market has completely revived the space, outfitting it with efficient coolers and refrigerators, LED lighting and restoring the building's original tin ceiling tiles. The market offers a full suite of grocery options, including a cafe, juice bar, artisan bakery, salad bar and prepared foods, cheese bar, bulk foods and a Brewery District with an emphasis on local craft beers.
Keith Brock, general manager
General manager Keith Brock says the project is “where passion and purpose come together.”

Brock, who has been in the grocery business for 23 years and helped open Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores around the Cincinnati area, says that the store is adding 81 new jobs to the neighborhood.

According to Clifton Market board member and fundraising committee chair Marilyn Hyland, market analysis projects that 15,000 visitors will frequent the shop each week.

Visitors are encouraged to join Clifton Market in celebrating its launch beginning on Thursday. The evening’s festivities will include a store-wide scavenger hunt and food tasting for adults and kids. On Friday, the store is hosting a Blue Jeans to Black Tie Gala from 6 p.m. to midnight. The free event will feature a silent auction, a Taste of Clifton Market that will showcase each department, a treasure hunt and live music by Mike Grathwold of the Modulators.

The three-day launch will culminate on Saturday with an official ribbon cutting ceremony, proclamations and a 135-cart parade through the streets of Clifton.

“We’re not a pin on a map for a national company,” says Hyland. “We’re here for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Visit Clifton Market's website and follow Clifton Market on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the launch and future market events.
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Read more articles by Kamal Kimball.

Kamal Kimball is a freelance writer and co-founder of Ampersand Creative Services.