It was a day many Annapolitans had been waiting for.
As crowds gathered outside the city’s Market House Monday morning, Mayor Josh Cohen—standing with members of the Annapolis City Council—led everyone in a countdown before he announced: “It's open.”
This announcement was greeted with claps and shouts of approval from the crowd as residents, elected officials and community leaders all made a beeline inside to check out the building and its new lineup of vendors.
Among the tenants inside are a mix of merchants offering fresh produce, crab cakes, oysters, sweets and local art.
Many of the vendors, ranging from longtime local-establishments to new businesses, expressed excitement to be part of the re-opening.
“I love the area. I love the water,” said Myra Weston, owner of Myra’s Popcorn Kitchen, with a location at Westfield Annapolis Mall.
Weston said she used to have a business at City Dock and said she is glad to be back in the area.
“It’s exciting to be part of history,” Jerrie Louck, owner of Jerrie’s on the Shore said. “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen the changes to the Market House and I just wanted to be a part of it, the new market."
Wok Your Way owner, Gu Chuan of Odenton, who was still finalizing a few things before the business could officially open, said she worked in China for 15 years. She had her her own business there, but sold it. This is her first business in America.
She has worked in this country in the food service industry and said she came up with a concept that allows people to have fried rice with meat or protein that they can customize.
She said she originally submitted a proposal in 2010, when the city called for an “open audition of ideas” for the building, and was contacted this year to see if she was still interested in being part of the building.
"I think it’s good for Annapolis, good for the community, good for downtown,” said Beth Levitt owner of longtime Main Street business Chick and Ruth’s Delly.
It was an exciting day for locals too.
“I missed the Market House like crazy,” said Libby Allen, who has lived in the Annapolis Roads community for more than 40 years.
She and her husband Ron said they plan to visit the Market House about once a week.
Maureen Smith, an Annapolis resident who will volunteer at the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitor’s Bureau's space inside the Market House, called the opening “wonderful.”
“We’ve been so sad for so long to have it empty,” she said.
The leases last for six months, though many business owners expressed interest in staying longer if given the option.
Regardless, the building will have to close early next year to finish rennovations to the building, which include installing geothermal wells for the HVAC system.
Cohen said there is a real possibility that the building’s long-term future could include some of the tenants currently inside.
He said the city council will have to decide whether or not to lease the building out to someone or manage it internally, the way it is now.