Whether it’s for seafood, deli products or a stick of butter, Wholey’s is the Strip District’s go-to place. This weekend, join us as we celebrate Wholey’s 100th anniversary, with our special look back at the institution’s storied past.
The Wholey family has been in the food business since patriarch Robert Leo peddled fruit via horsecart on the South Side around the turn of the century. In 1912 he opened a dairy store in McKees Rocks that evolved into sales of live poultry, a butchery and coffee. Raised in his father’s business, son Robert C. Wholey went on to establish a poultry market in what was known as Diamond Market in downtown Pittsburgh—now known as Market Square.
When the city of Pittsburgh redeveloped Market Square in 1959, Robert C. Wholey moved his business to 1711 Penn Avenue in the Strip District. At that time, the Strip was mostly warehouses, trucks and trains, serving the needs of store and restaurant owners but offering little to the general public.
It wasn’t until 1960 when Wholey began importing seafood and fish for sale, providing quality goods to both wholesale and retail customers. The next year he started a delivery service, further expanding the outreach of the store. In 1980, Wholey’s Fish Market purchased the old Federal Cold Storage building at 1501 Penn Avenue, moving their company headquarters and wholesale operation to that address, while continuing to provide the residents of Pittsburgh with a full service market in their original space.
Luke Wholey, great grandson of Robert Leo, recently opened an upscale restaurant at 2106 Penn Avenue, featuring a menu of Alaskan seafood– an area with which he is quite familiar, being a wilderness guide as well as a chef.
Nowadays, you can get a sit down meal at Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grill, you can order from Wholey’s online, or you can visit the market to shop for prepared foods, freezer goods and pantry staples. Options range from sushi and salmon to sandwiches and salads. You can even get that stick of butter, which is a hot commodity in the Strip.
Celebrations slated for September 21-23 at the Penn Avenue store include cooking demos, live music, entertainers and children’s activities. On September 22nd, Mayor Ravenstahl will officially pronounce 17th Street as “Wholey Way.”
Wholey’s is about as close to the heart of the Strip imaginable. Show your support for this Strip institution this weekend, and celebrate their heritage!
Wholey’s is located at 1711 Penn Avenue. For more information on their business and the 100th anniversary plans, please visit their website.