Weiant was the Businessman with a Plan
Warren Weiant’s father moved the Weiant family to Licking County in 1866. Ten years later, 18-year-old Warren borrowed $75 to start his first business — a coal company. Two years after that, he installed a battery-operated telephone system from his office on the square to the coal yard on Stanberry Street. It was a success; people came into his office just so they could hear their coal being ordered by telephone.
In 1888, he started the Weiant Bakery. It expanded and was sold to the United States Baking Co., and then to Nabisco, at which time he became the regional manager. In 1894, the first independent telephone company in the United States, the Newark Telephone Co., was established with Warren as president — a title he held until his death in 1926.
In the early 1900s, he built numerous homes on Hudson Avenue between St. Clair and Channel Street, including a home for his family at number 444. In order for the Hudson Avenue residents to reach downtown easier, he started the first bus line in Ohio, the Newark Auto Coach Co. It ran from downtown to Channel Street and back.
In 1905, Weiant sold his home on Hudson Avenue to William Wehrle and then built a home on Marne Road. This move was the beginning of the Weiant vegetable business, which really was a wonder. By 1908, greenhouses were built, and the entire operation covered seven acres with everything under glass. There was such a large demand for produce that the B&O trains stopped twice a day to pick up product, as did the interurbans. They delivered locally, to other parts of the Midwest, and even shipped produce as far away as Chicago. And if you were local, you could stop by the roadside stand on Marne Road.
In 1909, he headed a group to build the first indoor shopping center in the United States: the Arcade. During its peak (1910 to 1960), the Arcade, along with the Arcade Annex, housed almost every type of business you could imagine, plus a theater and hotel. When he passed away in 1926, his son Warren Jr. took over as president of the company.