Photo courtesy of Urban Milwaukee Flickr Photostream
The Journal has announced that one of my favorite Public Market vendors, Ceriello’s, will close up shop at the public market. Ciriello’s had good panini sandwiches, a nice mix of Italian cheese, meats, and antipasti, They also had some excellent dry aged beef. Their pasta selection was the best in the City too. I will really miss them.
The market has been open for 3 years now and has already lost Lakeside Meats (Butcher), A Flower Shop, Field’s Best organic produce, and a bakery. However, they have been successful in replacing the lost tenants, which is a great thing. They are adding a Good Harvest Market (which sadly is an overpriced Outpost ripoff) in a nearby building, a new bread maker (Breadsmith, which is better than the bakery it is replacing), and the Thief Wine Bar. It will be interesting to see how they deal with Ceriello’s space. Its kind of large so I could see it being broken up into a couple of smaller vendor spaces.
Honestly, I think the Market proponents completely overestimated the demand for an indoor market in Milwaukee. Couple that with all of the specialty grocers opening up including several new Sendik’s stores, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, The Pick n’ Save Metro Market, and a new Outpost in Bayview and that demand becomes even more watered down. They initially didn’t want to become a food court and had this narrow view of what the market should be. They soon realized that in order to be successful they needed to branch out. A 2007 Journal editorial had a quote from Ronald San Felippo, president of the Third Ward Association that hit the nail on the head. He said “Our basic concept of how to run a market is you sell the customers what they want, You don’t try to tell the customers what they want.”
Having been to Chelsea Market in Manhattan and the Ferry Building in San Francisco I noticed that both of them were multi-faceted and tended to have more places to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner than to buy seasonal produce. Chelsea Market serves as a food court, the home to the Food Network, and has a couple of specialty stores (seafood, Italian imports, and bread). The Ferry Building in San Francisco has a similar setup with the exception that they not only have casual eateries such as Taylor’s Automatic Refresher and Mijita (a Mexican Taqueria) but also The Slanted Door, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the City. Both markets also have a cookware store.
In my opinion, which means absolutely nothing, the Public Market should should try to attract a higher-end sit-down dining destination. Though I am not sure where it would go. They should also try to get one of the local restaurant supply stores to open an outpost of their larger stores at the market. I love Fein Brothers (2007 N. MLK Drive) but their hours are not conducive to attracting the home cook. It would be great to have them or Boelter (4200 N. Port Washington Road in Glendale). I wouldn’t want to see some overpriced place like Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma. I would also try to partner with more local restaurants to have chef demos or dinners that are a collaboration between say a local restauraneur and the wine shop.