Coming to the New Essex Street Market: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Harlem Shambles (Butcher), Zerza Reboot

Rendering: Essex Street Market.

Rendering: Essex Street Market.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC) announced today a few of the new vendors joining the Essex Street Market when it opens an expanded facility as part of the Essex Crossing project next year.

Joining 27 existing merchants in the new market space will be three independent businesses well known to New Yorkers. They are Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a local institution for four decades; Essex Shambles, an offshoot of the butcher shop Harlem Shambles; and Zerza, a new concept from Radouane Eljaouhari (he previously operated the Moroccan spot Zerza on East Sixth Street).

The 77-year-old market will be tripling its space in the new facility, which is scheduled to open on the south side of Delancey Street in September of 2018. The EDC, which operates the facility, is working on filling nine more stalls, plus two stand-alone restaurant spaces.

For most locals, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory requires no introduction. The little shop best known for its delicious Asian-inspired flavors has been a fixture on Bayard Street since 1977, and is now managed by second generation owner Christina Seid. Brothers Timothy and Mark Forrester opened Brooklyn Shambles on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in 2011. The whole-animal butchers will now be bringing their locally sourced beef, lamb, pork and poultry downtown. Eljaouhari was forced to close Zerza in the East Village due to spiraling rents. In the new Lower East Side stall, he’ll be marrying traditional Moroccan flavors with his passion for healthy eating (Eljaouhari is a marathon runner).

(L-R) Christina Seid, the Harlem Shambles team, Radouane Eljaouhari.

(L-R) Christina Seid, the Harlem Shambles team, Radouane Eljaouhari.

In a press release that was put out a short time ago, Christina Seid of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory said, “Essex Market made perfect sense to us because our family has had a long history in the downtown Chinatown/Lower East Side/Little Italy area. We are third generation New Yorkers, so we have seen all the changes over the years.  We hope to tell the story of the Lower East Side’s rich history through our ice cream flavors. Essex Market has the small local, family feel that we were looking for. It found us and it was natural to say ‘yes’ to the opportunity.”

Tim Forrester of Essex Shambles said, “We plan to bring the same community spirit, as well as the same well-raised, highest quality meats, that we’ve fostered at Harlem Shambles for years down to the new Essex Street Market… We are excited to be a part of the Essex Street Market and look forward to becoming a part of this vibrant, energetic and diverse downtown neighborhood.”

“For years,” explained Radouane Eljaouhari, “the vibrant community of the Lower East Side was home to my first restaurant, Zerza… So when thinking about where to build my next concept, the neighborhood was a natural first choice. I was thrilled to find such a welcoming group of vendors and affordable, state-of-the-art space at the New Essex Street Market, and can’t wait to open to the public next year.”

“Since 1940, Essex Street Market has been both a hub for the city’s food economy and a cultural center for Lower East Siders,” said EDC President James Patchett. “We are thrilled to welcome Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Essex Shambles, and Zerza to our vibrant mix of community-oriented vendors. We look forward to opening the new space next year and providing the neighborhood with an even better shopping and dining experience.”

Essex Street Market, April 2017.

Essex Street Market, April 2017.

City officials tell us they have been focused on recruiting new vendors committed to embracing the community spirit inside the market. All three new vendors have a track record of interacting with locals in their respective neighborhoods. As the new facility takes shape, EDC staff say the priority has been making sure the market does not become a conventional food hall (with an emphasis on prepared foods), but remains a food market with a diverse selection of products.

The current market will stay open until the new 36,000 square foot facility is ready in the fall of next year. The new market, located at 115 Delancey St., will offer extended hours for evening shopping and will include a demonstration kitchen for events on the second floor. In addition to the public market, the building will include the first phase of the Market Line, a large shopping pavilion. The food-centric portion of that facility, managed by the Essex Crossing developers, will feature about 70 vendors in the basement of 115 Delancey Street, upon opening next year.

During the past several years, Community Board 3, the Essex Market Vendor Association and the Lower East Side Partnership lobbied for protections to make sure existing merchants and local residents weren’t priced out of the new market. The new facility will be operated by the EDC, in collaboration with the Vendor Association and the LES Partnership.