Williamsburg Finally Gets Its Very Own Food HallA look inside Brooklyn's newest culinary adventure land, the North 3rd Street Market, with 21 vendors
The novelty value of food halls may be wearing off a bit, with a superabundance in Manhattan and the Disneyland of food halls, DeKalb Market, now open in Downtown Brooklyn. Even so, if you live in North Brooklyn, you might have been having a bit of food-hall envy. Now those hangry feelings can be satisfied with the arrival of North 3rd Street Market in Williamsburg, a tasty collection of 21 vendors that opened this week.
“Our goal was to create a market that satisfied every palate, while providing an experience for all members of the community and visitors of the borough,” says Manny Del Castillo, who operates the food hall with his business partner Jamie Hinojos, both founders of MRKTPL, a hospitality-focused creative agency. (Where have all the vowels gone?) The vendors include established names like Di Fara Pizza from Midwood, Corner Bistro from the West Village, and Bien Cuit bakery from Boerum Hill, as well as startups like Harvest2Order, the “first ever micro-green salad-bar concept.”
“Each vendor was personally curated to bring their own flare and flavors to the space,” says Del Castillo. “With such an energetic and prosperous community, we wanted to give the established brands we knew and loved–as well as emerging brands–the opportunity to be a part of this unique market.”
Windsor Terrace-based chef Chris Cheung of East Wind Snack Shop, whose dumplings have drawn best-in-the-city accolades, was drawn to the new hall thanks to the roster of vendors that MRKTPL had already lined up. “They signed so many awesome vendors that when they contacted me, it didn’t take long to agree on a deal,” he told The Bridge.
At Cheung’s booth, you can expect to find dumplings stuffed with juicy pork, dry-aged beef, and Shanghai vegetables. Not to mention pork-belly bao buns and double-happiness pork rice.
For Bien Cuit, which also has a stall at Grand Central Terminal, the new opportunity lies in being able to reach a broader audience in Brooklyn, says co-founder Kate Wheatcroft. “So many people who live in BoCoCa commute into the city for work, but folks aren’t commuting back and forth within Brooklyn in the same way because there aren’t really a lot of public transportation options.”
Bien Cuit, renowned for its baguettes and croissants, favors satellite locations like North 3rd Street over full-fledged new stores. “At first we thought we would open other bakery locations, but soon realized that part of keeping our product tight was keeping our team tight, and that spreading people out gave our chefs less oversight,” says Wheatcroft. “We prefer to keep the process itself in one location so that we are getting people the best-quality product.”
North 3rd Street Market does not just play it safe. Trendy offerings include drinkable vinegars (from Sweet Road Bevs) and plant-based Mexican fare (from JaJaJa). Perhaps the most novel vendor is Harvest2Order, a salad bar that relies on micro-greens cultivated in a hydroponic environment right behind the counter. “We saw an opening in the market to disrupt the micro-green business and introduce the product to consumers,” co-founder Liz Vaknin told The Bridge. “Until now it has widely been used and served exclusively by chefs. It’s considered this elite ingredient.”
Vaknin hopes to reach a more mainstream audience, but her company’s experiments with pop-up markets were underwhelming. She hopes the food hall will bring in a larger clientele. “This helps us tell that story and hopefully as we expand we can do it in more places,” says Vaknin.
The market, which arrays vendors inside a 15,000-sq.-ft. space with a minimalistic, “woodland theme” created by the development firm LENY, feels relatively cozy compared with larger food extravaganzas. “The intimate nature of our market allows each of our vendors to engage with all the visitors that enter the space,” says Del Castillo. “These types of interactions are how we see ourselves meeting our fellow community members, as well as growing within the neighborhood.”