REVIVING CITY MARKET
Jan 26, 2011 02:27PM
By Kristin DeMint
s spring and summer roll around, downtown Indianapolis will boast a new version of its City Market, a sort of revival of the city’s original market of the late 1800s and part of a nationwide initiative to get back to our agrarian roots. Not only will the market provide a hub for many of the greater Indianapolis area’s small businesses, but it will also provide a one-stop shop for Indianapolis residents to purchase anything “a true ‘foodie’ would want for a great dinner,” says Jim Reilly, Executive Director of City Market. “Our vision is to have our customers come to the Market and buy gourmet quality meat, farm-fresh vegetables, delightful hand-made candy, a warm baguette of bread and fresh-cut flowers all in one trip.” Whereas the current Market focuses on prepared products, the new and improved Market will focus on more fresh produce and ingredients for shoppers to make their own creations.
The Market changes, slated for early spring through summer of this year, are in keeping with the movement to “get back to our agrarian roots and source locally, getting back to understanding where our food and artisan products come from,” says Stevi Stoesz, Director of Business Development and Public Relations for the Market. “A public market’s heart beats differently than a grocery store. You’re not going to get the community element at a grocery store; you won’t get to shop individual destinations under one roof where you get to talk to the owner or producer.”
“The market in its heyday was the place to come for fresh products,” explains Stoesz. “Way back, you could even buy live chickens here. It was a flurry of activity for any kind of fresh agrarian product.”
The heyday she speaks of was in 1886, when the main market house was built adjacent to Tomlinson Hall, the Market Square Arena of its time. It hosted political rallies, entertainment functions—“any time there was a large community gathering,” says Stoesz, “it was held at Tomlinson Hall.”
“Over the years, [the city market concept] has shifted with the advent of the supermarket and people fleeing to the suburbs. In our particular place, the Market became more of a lunchtime destination.”
“The biggest change in aesthetics,” says Stoesz, “will be in [its welcoming ambiance]—a more vibrant appeal blending the historic aspect with some modernity.” In addition to updating the color scheme throughout the Market to reflect fresh foods—“dark greens, dark reds, mustard yellows, things that are reflective of food grown in Indiana,” Stoesz explains—some of the existing uni-structure that acts as a canopy over some of the stands will be removed in order to open up the space a bit more. Additionally, stand owners will have signage and interesting canopy structures to reflect what they sell.
“Until now,” explains Stoesz, “the stands have become homogenized in look, so we will be renovating for a more unique appeal. Right now the market is a sea of gray, and the focus is countertops, but the focus has got to be on the food. If [a vendor is] making a special salsa, I want to see the tomatoes, the cilantro, et cetera on the counter. The environment will be very artisan and agrarian in nature; it will be very workable, an environment where things are produced.”
In addition to the Main Market changes, the West Wing will be demolished, and the East Wing will host a bicycle hub and a small YMCA workout facility. Throughout the renovations, the Market will remain open for business.
“Philosophically,” says Stoesz, “the biggest shift will be the product mix. We’re moving away from the prepared food, lunchtime concept destination to that of fresh foods and artisan products in a retail setting” so that shoppers can go home and prepare their own healthful meals. “It’s kind of bringing our farmers’ market inside into the market with those great products that people obviously are desiring, since our Wednesday farmers’ market is our biggest day during the on-season,” Stoesz continues. “The public market is there to provide products to assist in augmenting the farmers’ market experience.” The Market’s leaders also expect that Saturdays will host a growing crowd.
The Market’s popular prepared items and crafts aren’t becoming obsolete, though. Although the permanent stands will focus on artisan and fresh product (think grocery-type) vendors, shoppers will still be able to purchase non-grocery items through many of the Market’s cart vendors. Additionally, a marketwide policy will require all indoor market vendors to accept both debit and credit cards.
One of the Market’s newest permanent vendors is locally owned Natural Born Juicers. Laura Mann Beatus, owner, discusses her excitement about their involvement: "We…are thrilled to be opening our first location at the Indianapolis City Market. It's a beautiful historic space that is ripe for a metamorphosis as an Indianapolis foodie destination. It will be nice to shed our juice gypsy lifestyle a bit, have a home and lots of room to create. In the future we will be offering vegan soups, salads, etc, and live snacks from Raw Gourmet Delights. We will also be offering juice cleansing programs, which we are really excited about, as well as free delivery to places close to the market; in addition, we will be available for catering for parties, business meetings, and so on as a healthy alternative to coffee and doughnuts. Look for us in February!"
Currently, Market stand owners are encouraged to stay open from 6am until 2pm, though times vary by vendor. As renovations are completed, demand increases, and new merchants open up, the Market hours on the whole are likely to extend beyond the business day for those looking to shop after work. “The market didn’t shift overnight, though,” says Stoesz, “and we’re not going to make that shift back overnight either.” For specific vendor hours, contact the Market office at 317-634-9266; you can find a list of permanent vendors on the Market’s Web site at http://www.indycm.com/shop/directory/. City Market also frequently announces updates to vendors and business hours through its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IndyCM and Twitter account @indycm.
Tomlinson Tap Room
The most recent renovation to the Market yielded Tomlinson Tap Room, which hosted a soft grand opening on November 24. This unique beer bar boasts all Indiana craft beer produced in microbreweries throughout the state. “Tomlinson Tap Room blends really nicely to make this a locally produced destination,” explains Stoesz. “Currently there are thirty-four microbreweries [in the state] with more being added daily (it seems), and we represent them all. We have sixteen taps, and those rotate so that we represent all the breweries. We Tweet and Facebook our tap menu every day.” For those who love a particular Indiana microbrewery but don’t often get the opportunity to visit, Tomlinson Tap Room offers those beers without requiring you to drive far to get them. And for those who prefer to imbibe in the comfort of home, Tomlinson offers growlers.
The Tap Room is located on the mezzanine level of the Market and is an open-air bar to the inside of the Market. If you prefer to shop casually, you can buy beer and take it anywhere within the main market house. The Tap Room is open to the public on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 2pm to 10pm. Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for special private and/or corporate event nights. To access the Tap Room, enter through one of the four main entrances in the Center Market House.
Parking around the area is free after 6pm on weekdays and free all day on weekends, but if you visit during business hours, you can park in the lot across from the Market on Alabama St., where Market Square Arena used to sit. Parking in the gravel lot costs $5 upfront, but if you shop at any of the vendors in the market and spend a minimum of $5, you will receive a voucher for a $4 refund for up to two hours of parking.
For more information, visit www.indycm.com.