Hot Bread Kitchen at La Marqueta
Thanks to the EDC(New York City Economic Development Corporation)and the City Council of New York City La Marqueta has opened. At 115th and Park now stands a completely renovated state of the art kitchen that provides not only space for Hot Bread Kitchen but opportunities for food purveyors who need space to grow their companies. Think of it like an incubator. There are a few companies that have already begun to use the space besides HBK and they are all geared towards sweets and they are definitely in need of some savory food vendors. If you are interested, please contact HBK.
Hot Bread Kitchen is a non-profit social enterprise that is creating better lives for low-income women by giving them an opportunity to become bakers by teaching them how to bake multi-ethnic breads as well as the skills of managing a business. HBK has built an incredible bakery at La Marqueta with the ability to bake 24/7 which will expand the workforce and sell more breads to retail operations including the Greenmarkets where HBK has a booth (currently at Union Square Market and Jackson Heights Queens). HBK is sharing/renting parts of their commercial kitchen space to food vendors who need small spaces to grow their own businesses.
It looks fantastic and is quite exciting. Here is the frustration. The back of the marketplace which houses HBK looks amazing. Soon it will be burgeoning with new businesses all working their trades and HBK baking 24/7. The frustration lies with the front of La Marqueta.
The front of La Marqueta is being managed by the EDC. The concept is to bring in food retailers and create something like a Chelsea Market or Essex Street market for the neighborhood. Even could be a destination location for people within a 30 block range. The upshot of this is if they really create something special and the positive aspects and economic opportunities will seep into the community. Sounds great, right?
It would be great if the EDC was paying HBK to create that but sadly they aren't they are managing it themselves. This should not be managed by a Government agency because that is certainly not their skill set. So at this point there is still a wreath and Christmas decorations hanging up in front. There are 3 vendors there that are pathetic. One selling terrible smelling dried fish, another selling sad looking fruit and the last selling soft potatoes. Chelsea Market wouldn't stand for the way these vendors look or for how they are going about their business. La Marqueta should be stocked with fantastic smart food vendors and the people of that area would stand up and applaud. The vendors in there now says something about how the EDC feels about the neighborhood.
My suggestion would be give away the retail spaces for a year for free. Let people apply for them. Then based on the application give each vendor a free space for a year or even just six months and get the place going. Make sure every booth is filled. Get all the top food vendors at Brooklyn Flea or Amsterdam Market because most of them don't have a retail space. I guarantee you that if Porchetta had a booth there they would sell out daily, if Robertas had a pizza oven there it would be terrific, if Anne Saxelby had a cheese shop there it would have plenty of business and more importantly why doesn't HBK have a retail cart in the market. If they are making bread in the neighborhood they should be selling their wares in the neighborhood.
I so hope that this is not another great idea that gets its 15 minutes of fame through the press. HBK and all the incubators in the back will certainly succeed but the EDC has to complete what they started. Make this place a gem that creates community and respect for the neighborhood. The success of this idea can be easily replicated in other areas of the city and other urban areas around the country.
Anyone listening out there?