Pittsburgh seeks home for icon: Wholey’s fish sign

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mayor-elect Bill Peduto and Pittsburgh’s best-known fish market, Robert Wholey & Co. are looking for a new home for the business’ iconic smiling fish sign.

The 100-by-60-foot sign has been in place for 25 years on Wholey’s cold storage building in the city’s Strip District, a section dominated by food wholesalers and other merchants.

Wholey’s sold the building in 2007 and now a developer plans to remove the sign when the building is renovated to house 144 apartments.

“We love this business and we love our customers,” said Jim Wholey.

“When Pittsburghers come here, they aren’t just getting the freshest fish and seafood around, but they are getting a fun, unique experience. Wholey’s will keep giving our customers the most enjoyable experience possible, and we feel that part of that experience is the iconic smiling fish sign.”

The sign was a Christmas gift from employees to Robert Wholey Sr. and was first erected in 1989.

“For 25 years, The Smiling Fish Sign has become a part of Pittsburgh’s cultural fabric and it brings smiles to the faces of children and grown-ups alike,” said Jim Wholey.  “Wholey’s understands that our loyal customers – the people of Pittsburgh – are the reason behind our 100 years of success and we feel that they should tell us where this iconic sign should go.”

Peduto says he’d like to see the Senator John Heinz History Center take over the sign. The center, which specializes in western Pennsylvania history, did something similar with the former H.J. Heinz Co. pouring ketchup sign a few years ago.

Wholey’s will pay to install the sign and foot its monthly electric bill.

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