Scanning the scene at Delancey and Essex streets this morning, you wouldn’t think the new Essex Street Market is scheduled to open to the public in just seven weeks. Even though it looks like there’s a lot of work left to be done on the facility at 115 Delancey St., the marketing push has begun for the monumental move from the existing 78-year-old market building.
In the New York Times today, Florence Fabricant reported on the “pending relocation.” She noted that all of but one of the vendors will be making the move in the fall (while she did not mention that vendor, it’s Santa Lucia Religious Articles).
The new market is part of the big Essex Crossing project. The developers, Delancey Street Associates, are building the glassy 37,000 square foot facility and turning it back over to the city, which will continue to run the public market. There’s no official opening date, although vendors have been told it will be Oct. 15. The Times reported, however, that 14 new merchants won’t make their debut until January of next year.
The newbies include: Samesa, a contemporary Middle Eastern takeaway counter from sibling chefs Max and Eli Sussman; Josephine’s Feast!, a New York-based producer of artisanal jams and preserves; Saffron, a Fort Green-based florist; Flower Power Herbs and Roots, a branch of the herbal apothecary shop located on East Ninth Street; Chinatown Ice Cream Factory; Essex Shambles, an offshoot of the butcher shop Harlem Shambles; Zerza, a new concept from the owner of the defunct Moroccan spot Zerza on East Sixth Street); Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, returning to the market after losing a stall there two years ago; Sugar Sweet Sunshine, the Rivington Street bakery; and Local Line by Exit9, an outpost of the longtime Avenue A gift shop.
The city has yet to announce two full-scale restaurants that will be part of the market.
The Wall Street Journal also has a piece today on the move. The report references the current, “drab redbrick buildings… with no street-level windows,” and declares that the, “descendants of (the former) pushcart merchants (forced inside by the city in 1940) are about to move back into the limelight.” Reporter Josh Barbanel writes that the move, “reflects the shifting fortunes of the neighborhood,” where more affluent residents are now moving in.
In the article, Anne Saxelby, vendor association president, said her fellow merchants are both worried and excited about the move.
Last week we posted a report from the Essex Street Market Vendor Association that showed a surprising lack of knowledge about the looming move of the market to an expanded facility on the south side of Delancey Street. Representatives from the Vendor Association and the Lower East Side Partnership appeared at a Community Board 3 meeting the next day to discuss what’s being done to inform shoppers about the big move.
The 78-year-old Essex Street Market will become part of the big Essex Crossing project in October, leaving behind its WPA-era building at 120 Essex St. The new facility at 115 Delancey St. is three times larger (36,000 square feet) and will feature a demonstration kitchen and public events space.
The report from the Vendor Association, completed in February, included on site surveys of shoppers, as well as online surveys, and feedback from local visioning sessions. Among the conclusions: Many shoppers did not know the market would be moving, and a lot of them feared that prices would go up in the glossy new building. Some weren’t even sure the current vendors would be part of the new market.
The findings were presented to CB3’s economic development committee by Lauren Margolis, the market’s community programs and engagement manager, and Amy Vu, a Neighborhood 360° fellow who has been working with the Lower East Side Partnership during the past year. Representatives from the city’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC), which runs the market, were also on hand to answer questions.
After the surveys were conducted, they noted, the city added conspicuous signage outside the market to announce the upcoming move. “Since then,” said Margolis, “there has been a huge uptick in the percentage of people that we speak to who know about the market move.”
The vendor Association has also printed postcards announcing the move that carry the slogan, “same vendors, same prices.” A splashy marketing campaign is in-the-works for the fall to promote the new Essex Street Market. The EDC, LES Partnership and Vendor Association are working on programming in the new facility (cooking demos, classes, workshops) to connect with the local community. They’ll also be emphasizing face-to-face contact with local residents, reaching out to them through settlement houses and other social service organizations in the area.
“We believe public programs are going to be a really important part of maintaining our current shopper base,” Margolis explained, “but also making Lower East Side residents in general aware that this is a market for them, serving them.”
Years ago, the community board cut a deal with the city to keep rents for existing vendors the same in the new building. Both vendors and city officials confirm that this commitment has been honored. [Some vendors are taking larger spaces and, therefore, will be paying more rent, but the price per square foot has not changed.] Delancey Street Associates, the Essex Crossing developers, are paying to build the new facility. The vendors will not be responsible for their moving costs.
In recent years, the Essex Street Market has catered to both low-income residents of the Lower East Side, as well as to more affluent shoppers. But a market survey conducted a few years ago found that more than half of the shoppers at the market rely on government assistance to buy their food. Tim Laughlin, president of the LES Partnership, said in an interview, “There has been considerable investment by the city to make sure the market is accessible to people of moderate incomes.”
Some shoppers will, no doubt, miss the quirky, scruffy market building, which was part of a complex built in 1940 to get merchants off the streets of the Lower East Side. Local residents lost a battle to save the buildings (two have already been demolished, and the others will be knocked down, as well). Laughlin conceded this fact, saying, “We are aware that there are concerns that the community is going to feel the loss of the market. We’re doing everything we can to relieve that concern.”
Rendering: New Essex Street Market.
Even though rents aren’t going up, Laughlin acknowledged that vendors are free to set their own prices. But he added, “There isn’t necessarily an incentive to change their price structure. I don’t anticipate that many will do that based on the significant numbers of customers they already have that are accustomed to those price points. In addition, there is natural competition within a small group of vendors (which has historically helped keep prices low).”
As of now, 23 existing vendors will be making the move. They’ll be joined by 12 new vendors, some of which have already been announced. The merchants have helped design their new spaces, and they have gone on hard hat tours of the facility, which is still under construction.
The last few years have been stressful ones for the vendors. The market experienced a drop in foot traffic when the Essex Crossing project was announced (many people mistakenly believe the current market is already closed). Several merchants closed in 2015. The latest closure happened just a couple of months ago when I.M. Pastry Studio shuttered after less than a year in the market. [In this particular case, we’re told, a medical issue forced the business to scale back; a lack of business was not a factor).
City officials say they’re confident the market is on track for a resurgence in a state-of-the-art new facility.
“As we get closer to the completion and opening of the new Essex Market space, we are very excited with the level of engagement we have received from both legacy vendors as well as new vendors who will join the market in its new space,” an EDC spokesperson told The Lo-Down. “We look forward to continuing to provide a community-focused and mission-driven public market to the residents of the Lower East Side.”
A relocation specialist has been hired to help with the move. The city is working to minimize the gap between the closure of the old facility and the opening of the new market. It will likely be a “few days,” they say.
Meanwhile, the EDC is planning a short-term art exhibition in the old Essex Street Market building. Serin Choi, part of the team working on the new market told CB3, “It’s not 100% confirmed, but we’re working with a very well known art (organization) to take over the old market once it’s vacated, so that when people go to the old market there will be something active for them to look at.” In a later conversation, EDC reps indicated that exhibition would be focused on the history of the public market.
We’re told demolition will likely occur at the old market in mid-2019.
Rhonda Kave in her former stall at the Essex Street Market. November 2014.
Three popular Lower East Side businesses are joining the new Essex Street Market when it debuts in a newly expanded space at 115 Delancey St. this coming fall. Among them is Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, which gave up a stall in the current market in 2016. The other additions are Sugar Sweet Sunshine, the Rivington Street bakery; and Local Line by Exit9, an outpost of the longtime Avenue A gift shop.
The 78-year-old market is moving from its 1940s-era building to a larger facility in the Essex Crossing development project. The 24 existing vendors will all be shifting over to the new space, along with 12 new merchants. The Economic Development Corp., which operates the market, has been announcing the new businesses in batches.
Roni-Sue’s Chocolates was one of the first businesses to take a chance on the Essex Street Market when it was on the upswing a decade ago. She started the candy store from scratch in 2007, making chocolate from a tiny stall in the back of the market. Owner Rhonda Kave had opened a larger shop and production facility on Forsyth Street in 2013. A couple of years ago, she shuttered the Essex Market outpost, which had become difficult to sustain as foot traffic slumped. Now Kave is returning to her roots, while keeping the main shop at 148 Forsyth open.
In a statement today, she said, “This year Roni-Sue’s Chocolates will celebrate our 11th anniversary by coming full circle, returning to our roots in the Essex Market–we’re so excited to be a part of this unique community of merchants again! I’ve missed that little village of characters and craftspeople, folks who gave me encouragement and support while I reinvented myself as a professional chocolatier.” Kave added, “I can’t wait to welcome old friends and long time customers, new LES neighbors and visitors to taste and experience our chocolates and confections as we make them right onsite at the new Essex Market.”
Debbie Weiner and Peggy Williams of Sugar Sweet Sunshine, 2010.
Sugar Sweet Sunshine has been a fixture at 126 Rivington St. since 2003. The community-oriented shop, owned by Debbie Weiner and Peggy Williams, specializes in cupcakes, but they also make specialty cakes and pies, and other sweet treats. They’ll be keeping their existing shop while expanding to the market.
“As owners of Sugar Sweet Sunshine, we have worked to stay true to the same values as the Essex Market; being accessible to all members of this community and owner-operated, face-to-face customer service, said Weiner and Williams. “We are truly honored to be welcomed into the community of the Essex Street Market and excited to share some sugar Sweet sunshine with both new and long-time residents of the LES.”
Exit9 Gift Emporium has been located in the East Village since 1995. The Essex Market satellite will offer locally made and designed gifts, food and mementos. Owner Charles Branstool said, “We started adding locally made and designed items at Exit9 several years ago as a way to support the local maker economy. Now, Local Line will be our fun, locally-focused shop with a subtle message about the power of shopping local.”
New market under construction. Photos ny NYC EDC.
Previously the city announced the following new vendors would be coming to the new Essex Street Market: Samesa, a contemporary Middle Eastern takeaway counter from sibling chefs Max and Eli Sussman; Josephine’s Feast!, a New York-based producer of artisanal jams and preserves; Saffron, a Fort Green-based florist; Flower Power Herbs and Roots, a branch of the herbal apothecary shop located on East Ninth Street; Chinatown Ice Cream Factory; Essex Shambles, an offshoot of the butcher shop Harlem Shambles; and Zerza, a new concept from the owner of the defunct Moroccan spot Zerza on East Sixth Street).
Earlier today we posted a story about efforts now underway by the vendor association to make sure the market retains its authenticity and low prices when it moves to the new facility. A recent survey showed that many longtime residents are concerned about that.
The current market will remain open until the new facility is ready sometime this coming fall.
Essex Street Market, April 2017.
Longtime Lower East Side residents are nervous about the looming move of the Essex Street Market into a glassy new space across Delancey Street. That was one of the main takeaways from a survey conducted by the Essex Street Market Vendor Association. It’s part of a report will be presented tomorrow (Wednesday) at a meeting of Community Board 3’s economic development committee (it was recently posted on CB3’s website).
A surprising number of locals surveyed did not know that the 78-year-old market is about to undergo its biggest transition since opening in 1940. When the move happens later this year, the market will become part of the big Essex Crossing development project.
The report, Building Community at the Essex Street Market, was designed to solicit feedback about the uses of a demonstration kitchen and public events space that will be part of the new market. After conducting customer surveys, focus groups and a visioning workshop, the vendor association summed up, “…the community’s mains concerns as they relate to the Market’s move, which include affordability, current vendor vitality and changes to neighborhood character.”
Back in 2011, some of the vendors and members of the local community fought a losing battle to save the historic market building at 120 Essex St. The city’s Economic Development Corp., which operates the Essex Street Market, argued that the facility was badly out-of-date and too small to be viable long-term. The community board successfully pushed for measures to protect the existing vendors. Their rents, for example, were to stay the same in the new building. Still, today there are well-founded worries that the gussied up market in a glossy new tower at 115 Delancey St. will lose its authenticity, old world feel and commitment to serving the local community.
In the recently completed report, the vendor association stated, “The quality of vendor-shopper relationships at Essex Street Market makes it a unique community space and more than just a shopping destination. Programs and events that support the interests of both vendors and neighborhood residents are essential to maintaining and cultivating a sense of community (in the new space).”
The outreach effort included focus groups and a visioning session.
Only about half of those surveyed while shopping in the market were aware of the upcoming move (more people responding to questions online knew about it). Only 13% of the in-store respondents knew that all of the existing vendors will be in the new facility. People expressed concerns that vendors could be paying more rent, and that as a result, food prices would increase.
One shopper said, “I love Essex Street Market because the prices are low, and I’m afraid that this move will cause significant price increases.” Longtime residents were particularly worried, while newer residents tended to express optimism about the changes. Other shoppers explained, “The Essex Street Market is the only place that keeps culture alive for Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Spanish, and Mexicans,” and “there is no where else in this neighborhood that sells my culture’s food. I [would] have to go to El Barrio or Brooklyn.”
The merchant association said it, “plans to survey vendors to better understand how they foresee pricing structure to change – or stay the same – in the new Market. This feedback, alongside information regarding vendors’ new permit conditions, will help determine what role (the vendor association) can play in ensuring that the Market’s price points remain affordable.”
Rendering: New Essex Street Market.
The report includes several recommendations. It suggests building on existing relationships with local settlement houses and other organizations to make sure the community knows the market is a, “destination for free and reduced-price public programming.” The survey showed a strong desire for more food education and intergenerational programming, plus kids cooking classes. The report calls for an outreach and marketing strategy to reach both new and longtime residents:
Outreach should focus on targeted messaging in both print and digital, with the former concentrating on how the Market will maintain its current makeup and the latter speaking to exciting developments around new vendors and event opportunities.
The new market will be 37,000 square feet, about triple the size of the current facility. There will be 12 new vendors, as well as two stand-alone restaurants. The city will continue to run the Essex Street Market, in partnership with the vendor association and the Lower East Side Partnership. Essex Crossing will also include a subterranean shopping pavilion called the Market Line. Both the Essex Market and the first portion of the Market Line are supposed to open this coming fall.
As mentioned, the report will be presented to CB3 tomorrow evening. The meeting takes place at 200 East 5th St., and begins at 6:30 p.m.
UPDATE: We have a followup to this story here, including details about the city’s efforts to get the word out about the upcoming move of the Essex Street Market.
Building Community at New Essex Street Market by The Lo-Down on Scribd
Essex Crossing’s developers were honored at the Essex Street Market Block Part held May 19, 2018.
It was pretty much a washout Saturday at the Essex Street Market’s annual Block Party, but merchants and customers alike braved the elements and made the best of it.
The Vendor Association also looked ahead to the future. In a few months, the 78-year-old public market will be moving across the street to an expanded facility in the Essex Crossing project. At this past weekend’s event, Vendor Association President Anne Saxelby dedicated this year’s block party to Delancey Street Associates, the consortium building Essex Crossing. Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M Development Partners; Charlie Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic Investment Partners; and Isaac Henderson, Essex Crossing’s project manager were on hand to accept awards.
As part of the developers’ agreement with the city, they are building the new market and paying moving expenses for all of the vendors. Saxelby thanked them, as well as the city’s Economic Development Corp. (which runs the market) and Community Board 3 for working to make the new market happen. “When we first learned of the Essex Crossing project back in 2013,” said Saxelby, “we as vendors were really concerned because we didn’t know what our fate would be. Thanks to the work of the EDC, CB3 and Delancey Street Associates we have a beautiful new market, and all of the current vendors will be moving over, plus 14 new vendors.”
Also attending Saturday’s rainy party were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin.
At one point, Chin ducked inside the market to pick up a few items at one of the newer stalls, Essex Olive & Spice House. In her public remarks, she said, “The new market will be gorgeous and wonderful,” said Chin, “but there are a lot of new vendors in the market right now, so please check it out. I did. It’s just wonderful to celebrate the history of the market and also to celebrate the neighborhood.”
The EDC, Vendor Association and Lower East Side Partnership have been sponsoring the block party during the past few years as a way to boost awareness of the market, which has struggled to attract foot traffic. The new market will be located at 115 Delancey St., just across from the current building.
Essex Street Market Block Party 2016.
Here’s a reminder about this weekend’s Essex Street Market Block Party. Yes, the weather looks a little bit dicey, but you can handle it. The outdoor festival on Saturday afternoon will be a bittersweet occasion. In the fall, the vendors in the 78-year-old public market will move over to a gleaming new space in the Essex Crossing project. So the block party really is a last hurrah.
You’ll be able to sample food from many of the existing vendors, plus some of the new operators who will be part of the Essex Street Market 2.0, including Samesa, a Middle Eastern spot from Max and Eli Sussman, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and Harlem Shambles, a butcher focused on high quality meats.
The block party takes place from noon-5 p.m. outside the market on Essex Street, near Rivington Street. Here’s the Facebook invite.
Photos ny NYC EDC.
The new Essex Street Market is starting to look like, well, a market. The Economic Development Corp. (EDC) has just made some construction photos available, as well as new renderings.
If all goes according to plan, the vendors of the historic Lower East Side institution will move into the new space in the fall. The expanded facility at 115 Delancey St. is part of the Essex Crossing project. Here’s a look:
The 26 existing merchants will be joined by 11 new vendors, a handful of which have already been announced. There will also be two new full-service restaurants and a demonstration kitchen on the second floor. In the past, EDC officials have said they’ll be paying homage to the 78-year-old facility with some historic flourishes. Designers. for example, have been refurbishing the old “Orchard Essex Meat Market” sign that hung in the Essex Street Market building that was torn down on this site.
The new market will be part of a 26-story tower on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets. The current market will remain open until the move happens, supposedly in about three to four months.
Essex Street market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by WXY.
Essex Street Market rendering by SHoP Architects.
Essex Street Market rendering by SHoP Architects.
Rendering by Delancey Street Associates.
It’s almost time to say goodbye to the old Essex Street Market, which has operated out of the same facility on the Lower East Side since 1940. In just a few months, the vendors will be moving across the street to a brand new space as part of the Essex Crossing project. Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, a market tenant, will be acknowledging the momentous occasion with a special exhibition opening tomorrow (Friday, April 27).
The show, In, Of, and Crossing Essex, features projects from three artists, offering visitors, “opportunities to explore the public and private histories of the Market through the stories, perspectives, and lived experiences of the people who work and shop there every day.”
Sonia Louise Davis, Dillon de Give and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín have created a series of installations and public programs that will take place in the market through June 10.
Among the scheduled events:
April 27-May 13 (Thursday through Sunday from 2-6 P.M.)
Send a Message From Essex Street Market
Work with a facilitator to construct and send immaterial “postcards” from Essex Market before its historic relocation.
Monday, May 14 from 6:30-8 p.m.
PANEL: Small Businesses as Cultural Contributors
This discussion will bring together artists, business owners, and city organizers to discuss the contributions of small businesses to the Lower East Side’s cultural fabric. Panelists will consider how artists and cultural organizations in the neighborhood have aligned with small businesses, and consider ways to strengthen the foundation of how cultural vibrancy is represented in a city-wide context.
Tuesday May 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
WORKSHOP: After-Hours Performance Workshop with Sonia Louise Davis
Explore Essex Street Market in a unique movement/sound-based experience led by Sonia Louise Davis. Participants will improvise in the empty market while it is closed to shoppers and create scores to guide their private performances.
Saturday, June 2 from 2-6 p.m.
WORKSHOP: Drop-in Score Making with Sonia Louise Davis
Stop in for an afternoon of hands-on score making. Informed by a wide range of artists’ graphic notations, participants can practice drawing or invent their own marks and symbols.
Sunday, June 10 from 3-7 p.m.
Roundtable and Closing Reception
What steps can artists take to support small businesses? Looking at the ways artists and organizers in Lower East Side have worked together to support small businesses, this roundtable discussion will question how artists and cultural institutions can engage as active community members by supporting small businesses – and what this kind of support looks like in concrete, day-to-day actions.
The May 14 and June 10 events will be presented in partnership by Artists Alliance Inc, and The People’s LES/FABnyc. Tomorrow’s opening reception takes place from 6-8 p.m. Click here for more details.
Image via Dominican Cravings’ Instagram.
A new vendor is joining the Essex Street Market starting tomorrow (Friday, April 13). Emmanuel Diaz is soft opening a stall called Dominican Cravings.
After stints at April Bloomfield’s Salvation Burger and Salvation Taco and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Cocina, Diaz decided to strike out on his own. The graduate of the International Culinary Center settled on the cuisine of his native Dominican Republic. The dishes are meant to preserve the traditions of the DR, while adding some modern touches.
Dominican Cravings is specializing in patacon, smashed plantain sandwiches, and empanadas. One dish, tres golpes patacon, takes the classic Dominican breakfast of eggs, fried cheese and salami, adding caramelized onions. You can see the full menus below. You can stop by the market any time to sample Diaz’s specialties (the stall is located across from Luna Brothers Fruit Plaza). It will be open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Or you can visit him at the Essex Street Market Block Party on May 19.
As you probably know, the market is moving across Delancey Street to the new Essex Crossing development in September. All of the vendors, including Dominican Cravings, will be making the move. The market will be open continuously until the switchover to the expanded facility.
Dominican Cravings Menu 1 by The Lo-Down on Scribd
Dominican Cravings Menu 2 by The Lo-Down on Scribd
Essex Street Market Block Party 2017.
Over the past few years, The Essex Street Market has celebrated the arrival of spring/summer with a block party. This year’s version, happening Saturday, May 19, has special meaning. That’s because it’s the last few months in the historic 1940 building before the market moves across Delancey Street to the new Essex Crossing development.
As usual, there will be food from your favorite vendors and entertainment all throughout the afternoon. The block party takes place between noon and 5 p.m. In addition to the existing merchants, you’ll also get a first taste of some of the new vendors who will be added to the mix in the expanded facility. Samesa, a Middle Eastern spot from Max and Eli Sussman and Chinatown Ice Cream factory will both be taking part. We’re told most food items will be $5.
A deal was worked out years ago, allowing the vendors to move to the new market at 115 Delancey St. at the same rents they’re paying now. While the Essex Crossing developers are paying to build the new facility, it will continue to be operated by the city’s Economic Development Corp. The move-in is supposed to happen in September.
If you’d like to register for the block party you can do it here.
Rendering: Essex Street Market.
Four more vendors have been revealed for the newly expanded Essex Street Market, scheduled to open this coming September as part of the Essex Crossing project.
The city’s Economic Development Corp. announced the new merchants today. They include: Samesa, a contemporary Middle Eastern takeaway counter from sibling chefs Max and Eli Sussman; Josephine’s Feast!, a New York-based producer of artisanal jams and preserves; Saffron, a Fort Green-based florist; and Flower Power Herbs and Roots, a branch of the herbal apothecary shop located on East Ninth Street.
The market will be moving across the street from its current location to a new two-story space on the ground floor of 115 Delancey St. The 26 existing vendors will be joined by nine new operators. The EDC, which runs the market, previously announced the additions of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Essex Shambles (a Harlem-based butcher) and Zerza (a Moroccan restaurant previously located in the East Village).
A full-service version of Samesa opened a couple of years ago in Williamsburg. The restaurant and the Essex Market stall are patterned after the small falafel shops, halal trucks and Middle Eastern restaurants in Detroit. In a statement, the Sussman brothers said, “The long history of the original Essex Market on the LES, coupled with the community and social goals of the new market makes this a dream project for us to play a part in.”
Josephine’s Feast! was founded in 2009 by Laura O’Brien. From a commercial kitchen in Astoria, she makes an assortment of marmalades, fruit butters, chutneys, spice rubs and blends, natural sea salts, granola, heirloom cakes and gift collections. The Essex Market stall will be her first permanent retail location.
Saffron also opened in 2009. The store specializes in unique flower arrangements and also sells handmade good from local artists. Flower Power Herbs and Roots was opened in the East Village in 1993 by Lata Chettri-Kennedy. The store offers a wide range of dried herbs and extracts for cooking, medicinal and beauty uses.
The new Essex Street Market will triple in size when the move takes place. The new 36,000 square foot facility will include a demonstration kitchen and two full-service restaurants (they have not yet been announced). In today’s press release, the EDC noted that the, “the new market will also continue to provide affordable food products for the Lower East Side’s diverse communities.” [a long-standing agreement allows the vendors . to move to the new facility at their current rents.]
Earlier this month, the Essex market lost an existing vendor, Boubouki, which shut down as owner Rona Economou chose to move on to other opportunities in the food industry.
Boubouki, the tiny stall offering authentic Greek food, will be closing for good in the Essex Street Market next week.
Rona Economou told us this afternoon she’s decided to move on to a new opportunity after 7-and-a-half years making spinach pies and baklava. Economou made a life change in 2010, after losing her job as an attorney during the Great Recession.
She called the experience in the market both amazing and hard. As the New York Times recounted in 2011, Economou would wake up every morning at 5:30 to start baking. She works six days a week and relies on her mother to pick up olive oil and flour. “I’m glad she won’t have to do that anymore,” said Economou. On the other hand, running a micro-business on the Lower East Side afforded her life experiences she could never have imagined. Economou has forged strong relationships with her customers. One 90-year-old woman visits Boubouki twice a week, depending o the little shop for meals.
In 2015, several Essex Street Market vendors closed down, citing a drop in foot traffic. Since that time, the Economic Development Corp. (which runs the market), the Vendor Association and the Lower East Side Partnership have worked together to provide better marketing support for the merchants. Meanwhile, they’re pointing towards a move to a new expanded facility in the new Essex Crossing development this coming fall. A new vendor, Dominican Cravings, is scheduled to open in the next few weeks.
Economou said she feels that businesses all over the Lower East Side are struggling due to low foot traffic. She doesn’t feel it’s an issue exclusive to the market.
Boubouki’s last day selling food will be this coming Tuesday.
Rendering of the new Essex Street Market.
In the fall of this year, a new Essex Street Market will open on the south side of Delancey Street as part of the Essex Crossing project (keep in mind that all of the vendors are still operating until that time in the existing facility).
One feature of the newly expanded space will be a second floor demonstration kitchen and public event space. Coming up on Monday, Feb. 5, there will be a community visioning workshop. It’s your chance to talk about what types of programs, classes and events you’d like to see. The session is being coordinated by the market’s Vendor Association.
The workshop takes place at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of 175 Delancey St. That’s the Essex Crossing senior building that quietly opened to residents a few months ago. You can RSVP by emailing email@example.com or calling (212) 334-6943.
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.
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.
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.
The holiday season will be in full swing at the Essex Street Market on Sunday. Santa will be visiting from 2-4 p.m. They’ll be decorating the Christmas tree, and you’re invited to make homemade ornaments with the Essex Street Market crew. There will also be free hot chocolate and candy canes.