Crowds Pack Wholey’s Fish Market On Ash Wednesday

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The line stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk as Ash Wednesday brought in the customers at Wholey’s Fish Market.

Yet the line moved quickly as workers behind the counter work together.

“They have a very good system and they go through quickly, and it’s great,” says customer Chrissy Pruszynski. “They have it down to a science.”

The system has been developing ever since Robert Wholey opened the first market in McKees Rocks, 105 years ago. Now in the Strip District, Jim Wholey and his brothers are third generation owners.

During Lent, he says, “We bring on five or 10 extra people. We ramp up the inventory. We know it’s all going to happen.”

Just before Lent, they order 30 percent more fish. They don’t procrastinate in the planning process. In fact, they’ll start getting ready for the next Lenten season as soon as this one comes to an end. Brainstorming begins the day after Easter.

“We try to make it quicker, better, faster than the year before,” Jim says. “We put those notes away. And then, a month or two before Lent starts, we pull those notes out, and we start preparing.”

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He says it’s a family business, in more ways than one.

“A lot of fathers bring their sons. And as the father ages, the son brings the father,” he says.

Among the customers is Mayor Bill Peduto. When asked if he’d like a sandwich named after him, he responds in the negative.

“I mean, Peduto can be used for a lot of things, but I don’t think it goes really well with a fish sandwich,” he said.

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