Another Public Market Closing

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.

10 thoughts on “Another Public Market Closing

  1. I was very excited when the market opened but I admit that I’ve only been there about 3 times. I rarely think about it when I’m planning to get something to eat, even though I dine in the Third Ward frequently and go to Metro Market every week. I think it needs something unique to draw more people there.

  2. Oh, and what exactly is Boelter? I’ve seen the showroom while driving past on Port Washington Road. Is it open to the public? Can you buy stuff there?

  3. I’m afraid a higher end restaurant wouldn’t last in that spot. Although I wish one could work.
    The whole Market idea was iffy from the beginning. I think they over estimated the locals demand and under estimated the quality in “regular” near by stores.

    Does anyone make money in there?

    I also like your Fein/Boelter idea.

  4. BTW, I served the Ader Kase at the wine dinner. I also purchased their Danish version and will try the ‘reserve” next time. I was a little surprised how mild they were. Reminded me of Maytag.

    Thanks for the tip.

  5. My wife and I own Good Harvest Market, and I was very suprised to see your disparaging comments about our prices. I am wondering if, when you compare our prices to Outpost, you are comparing apples to apples? We pride ourselves on carrying a larger percentage of organic products than the other local natural food stores, and unfortunately, organic produce, groceries, etc., tend to have a higher price than conventional products. Have you actually done any shopping at our stores recently? I look forward to your response. Joe Nolan

  6. Joe –

    I am not going to backtrack and say that your prices aren’t expensive because most of them are.

    With that being said I do shop occasionally at your store and love buying produce from you because it is always excellent (you cannot find quality rainbow chard, spinach and carrots at Pick N Save), but I find a lot of the stuff you carry to be quite expensive even compared to Outpost, which isn’t the cheapest place either.

    I guess I was generalizing a bit, and some of it stems from my biases about the organic food movement. I kind of view the whole organic food thing as somewhat elitist. That’s not to say that all organic food proponents are elitists but there are some in the movement that view it as a status symbol as if to say I am wealthy enough to buy organic food. Organic isn’t always better. I would much rather support some local farmer who maybe doesn’t meet the standard for organic than to buy organic food from some farm in California.

    As with most stores I find that if you avoid the center aisles and focus on the meat, dairy, seafood, and produce section of Good Harvest it’s a nice place to shop.

  7. Thanks for your reply Jeff – while I can’t do anything about the higher cost of organic foods, I can make sure that we are in line with prices of our competitors, so we will do a full check soon. In the meanwhile, we will continue to work at having some of the best produce, meat and seafood available in the area!

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