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Almost 50 years ago, two teenagers working at their families’ businesses created what would become a classic Market love story. In 1969, Don Kuzaro Jr. was working as a "clean-up kid" at his dad and uncle's Pike Place Market butcher shop, Don & Joe's Meats. Directly across from the butchery, Diana Hanada was behind the table at her family's farm stand, where she first caught Don's eye.

Every morning after cleaning the display glass, Don would head over to Diana's stand to say hi, tell jokes and make small talk. The two soon became good friends. Their friendship continued even after Don was drafted into the Navy on Valentine's Day 1972, promising to remain pen pals. Between deployments, Don and Diana would spend time together, growing closer, eventually dating and finally tying the knot in 1978.

The couple now has two grown daughters, grandchildren and a lifetime of happy memories. Although Diana’s farm stand is no longer running, if you stop by Don & Joe's Meats the next time you're at the Market and you might see Don behind the counter (though no longer on clean-up duty)!

(Photo: The Seattle Times, 2008)

Known by nearly every craftsperson here at the Market—even affectionately called “Mama”—few know of Sharon Shaw’s incredibly sweet story about how she met her husband, right here at Pike Place Market!

It all began in 1984 at Cinnamon Works, where Sharon was employed. She’d start her days early in the morning, rolling out pastry dough and baking sticky buns at the well-loved bakery, which back in its early days, was located a few storefronts down from its current location on Pike Place.

Enticing customers with freshly baked pastries, the owner of Cinnamon Works wanted his staff to shout, “We’ve got hot sticky buns!” Sharon laughed as she told us this story, admitting she never wanted to say that to potential customers. That is until she saw Michael Shaw—a gentleman who worked at Tony Genzales Produce. She remembers seeing him every day, pushing hand-trucks of produce from the storage coolers into the arcade.

It was love at first sight!

“Knowing he was going to be coming back around, I put on some fresh lipstick and spiked up my hair, tightened up my apron and leaned WAY over the counter,” Sharon recalls. Michael stopped dead in his tracks after Sharon yelled, “Hey! I’ve got nice hot sticky buns!” 

The two had lunch together and, as tales go, the rest is history.

Sharon eventually moved on from Cinnamon Works; the two got married and became craftspeople at the Market, selling handmade stained glass kaleidoscopes. Their two sons grew up in the Market, and were frequently seen in front packs, strollers or playpens near Sharon’s table, and each eventually had their first jobs at Pike Place, too.

Sharon and Michael have been together for 34 years, and while they’ve retired from selling at the Market, Sharon is still an integral part of Pike Place Market and can be seen visiting and interacting with our Market community. 

For 40 years, the Pike Market Senior Center (PMSC) has served low-income and homeless seniors in the immediate downtown Seattle area. PMSC provides a safe place for seniors (55 years and older) to participate in activities such as yoga, dancing, acupuncture, receive assistance with housing and social security, and perhaps the most important thing of all - a place to eat two meals a day. Behind the scenes planning activities, scheduling wellness services and cooking meals is a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

Feeding approximately 200 seniors daily is no easy feat, especially when 90% of food needs are reliant on donations! Brenda Neuweiler, senior nutrition program manager and chef, plans and cooks meals based on weekly donations that not only taste good but meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The Senior Center serves breakfast and lunch daily, which means that if a senior eats both meals at the center they will have received ⅔ of RDA for the day. Neuweiler has only been at the center for 2 years, but says, “I realized the needs within this demographic and immediately knew that through my cooking I could bring positive change and was confident that I could elevate the food being served. I couldn’t be more pleased with the staff and how we’re able to make such a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Running and operating a senior center takes money, and while about 75% of the funding comes from Pike Place Market Foundation grants and city contracts, there’s still a 25% funding gap that needs to be filled. That's where Mason Lowe comes in. Lowe is PMSC's grant writer and bookkeeper, and has been with the organization for the past 8 years. “I love it," said Lowe about working with seniors. "Everyone here has had a really interesting life. Anytime I’ve been able to sit down and have a one-on-one, I leave blown away.”

(Brenda Neuweiler and Mason Lowe, PMSC staff)

Located under the famous Public Market Center sign and clock and down the hallway from the infamous Gum Wall is a place where passion and commitment ensures the wellbeing of some of the most important and vulnerable people in our community. To learn more about PMSC and how you can volunteer and donate, visit pikemarketseniorcenter.org.
 

Neighborcare Health hosts an event benefiting the Pike Market Medical Clinic

Join us on Tuesday, October 3 for a unique opportunity to try some of Pike Place Market's best restaurants and support Neighborcare Health at Pike Market Clinic. The Clinic at Pike Place Market has long been the leading provider of comprehensive primary health care to low-income and uninsured people in downtown Seattle, providing more than 28,000 medical and mental health care visits annually to over 5,000 patients—45% of whom are uninsured and 40% of whom are or were recently homeless.

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Last week, the Market celebrated 110 years as Seattle’s farmers market. What makes Pike Place Market such a special place? We believe it’s the people.

As part of our anniversary celebration, we highlighted various Market characters, each who have their own stories about what Pike Place Market means to them. Follow along as we continue to introduce you to these #PikePlacePeople throughout the year!

 

Anne Smith of Sunny Honey Company talks about the best day of her life:

 

Why does Mercedes of Ghost Alley Espresso call herself a “Rat of the Market”? Watch to find out:

 

Art Stone of Honest Biscuits shares his journey from selling at farmers markets to opening his new shop in the MarketFront:

 

How did Don Kuzaro of Don and Joe’s Meats meet his wife?

 

Find out how Jaison Scott of Pike Place Fish Market got the nickname “Banana Box Kid”: