When Will Donaldson and Barre Tanguis open the doors to St. Roch Market on April 10, the event will mark an important milestone for St. Claude Avenue, the return of an iconic neighborhood market on a street that continues to attract new businesses including a slew of hot new restaurants. This is gearing up to be the hands-down single biggest opening this Spring in NOLA and even one of the biggest food halls in the country. Here's why.
Donaldson and Tanguis have put together a solid line up of businesses that stem from pop up, food truck, dinner club and general restaurant industry fame. Here's the lowdown.
St. Roch Forage: "The entire front section of the market will be produce run by Keenan McDonald. There's local eggs too. It's all sourced from within 200 miles, which we pick up ourselves. One of the ways we stay affordable to the neighborhood is by being our own middle man."
The Sweet Spot Bakery from Donna Maloney: "You'll be able to come in and get a dessert service and also buy retail breads."
Juice NOLA: "Dylan Maisel was previously at Beaucoup Juice. He's doing juice and salads, acai bowls and healthier breakfast stuff, wraps and things. He'll also retail all of his juices."
Coast Roast Coffee: "Kevin Pedeaux is headquartered in Holy Cross. He's a micro-roaster and his coffee is incredible. He'll be doing both cold and hot teas and coffees. Also retail coffee by the pound. We've got a number of blends and single source that can be purchased by the pound."
Dirty Dishes Nola: "This is an adapted form of the food truck from Lesley Turner. She's amazing. She'll be doing a crepe concept. It'll be both sweet/savory crepes served in a sleeve. She'll also be retailing jams, jellies, and different types of sauces."
PDR NOLA: "Rita Bernhardt is an amazingly skilled chef (previously of August/Bacchanal). Her Sunday night dinners have become so popular. She'll be doing a specialty foods concept here."
Shank Charcuterie: "Donald Link originally recruited salumiere Kristopher Doll from SF to open Butcher. Then he went on to do Ancora and a number of spots for Adolfo Garcia, and opened Cleaver & Co. with Seth. This is the first space of his own. He'll also have cheese, and sandwiches during the day. At dinner, proper tartar, carpaccio, stuff like that. He also has a stand alone butcher shop/production facility on St. Claude, where he'll do the butchering."
Elysian Seafood: "Brandon Blackwell, previously of Upperline will do fresh and boiled seafood, gumbos, etouffes, and other prepared items."
Lagos from chef Tunde Way: "We started to do a potluck for all the vendors, so they can show off their food and get to know each other. Tunde Way made some amazing dishes for us the other night. Everybody went bonkers over them. It's West African food."
Curious Oyster Company (oyster bar): "Melissa Martin is from Mosquito Supper Club. She'll have a very solid Gulf oyster presence, but also do some stuff from the East and West coast too to keep it interesting."
King Creole: "Micah Martello does fantastic Creole dishes. Grits and grillades, shrimp and grits. It's super delicious. He's cooking right now in his own food truck, primarily at Courtyard Brewery."
Koreole: Kayti Williams is Korean, and her husband actually from the St. Roch area. They do fun Korean Creole fusion like Japachalaya, a jambalaya with rice noodles."
The Mayhaw (cocktail bar) from Ali Mills of Dash & Pony: "She's doing the entire menu design, program, the whole thing. In addition, we also have a full retail program on the shelves in back, so yes, you can buy wine by the bottle and drink it at home or at the market.
Location, Community Outreach & Affordability
Community outreach has been the name of the game since day one, with St. Roch Market working closely with twelve neighborhood associations to effectively service and give back to the surrounding area.
What were some of the challenges of finding vendors?
WD: We had lots of inquiries, and we still get more inquiries. We're still toying with the idea of special events. There's some people we'd like to involve, but maybe not on a permanent basis. People who aren't necessarily ready to have a full-time commitment, that's 98 hours a week just to be here. A lot of people are like, I'd love to cook on the weekends. We're trying to figure out how to work them in.
BT: As we develop our programming, there's one guy I love who makes barbecue, he cooks three days a week, but maybe on the weekends bringing him in.
WD: Or do a mobile sno-ball machine during the summer. Stuff like that.
When you were planning the new St. Roch Market did you study other food halls for help?
WD: We specialize in shared space. That's what I've done forever. This concept has been popular everywhere. It's taking the nation by storm now, but before five years ago, it was incredibly popular in Europe. I went all over Spain—where the concept really originated—and I looked at all those things. Then I learned the history of this building, and the New Orleans market scene, which was quite in depth. They call them public markets now, but that's not what they were called at the time, and they were extremely popular. So the idea of merging those two concepts is what we wanted to do. We've been chasing this idea for several years, but when this building became available in the past two years we jumped on it.
Have there been any challenges with the neighborhood?
The neighborhood has been so supportive, and it's awesome. We did so much work before we were awarded the building by the city. And 'awarded' is a strong way to put it (they just leased it to us). Essentially, they wanted to make sure the neighborhood was brought in before they decided to lease it. What we did was work with 12 different neighborhood organizations in this area and came up with an outreach program, revising it about four times. We work with the the president Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association every week, if not every few days. They've been extremely supportive.
St. Roch Market is the centerpiece for this neighborhood. We also hired a young lady who will be in charge of the community outreach program, who will oversee the plan we've put together. There's a lot of exciting things in the plan. One of the most exciting is the Apprenticeship Program. If you come to the market, and work part time, and want to attain a marketable skill—learn to be a baker, say— you can take a turn in the program, working under a skilled craftsperson in the market and learn. It's an important part of our business, having a neighborhood focus and giving back. It's what we're super excited about and what gets us up in the morning.
Is it going to be affordable?
One of the things we decided from the beginning is that it has to have affordable options for people. But it's also important that the menus are diverse. That the market is interesting. People are exploratory and want to try new things. There's a lot of corner stores in this area. Our goal with this project is retaining affordability while offering a superior or locally sourced product. Locally-sourced doesn't mean it has to be expensive, because we have tricks: We're not buying from distributors. We're doing it ourselves to keep the cost down.
Parking, Tons of Seating & More
Here's what to expect inside and outside the market.
- St. Roch Market will have parking, 200 seats, community events, and more amenitites. Check it out.
- produce will be up front/wine selection in back of market
- Each vendor/stall has a fancy I-Pad POS station
- Each stall will have a menu written on mounted glass
- Each vendor collects their own money
- The building has about 200 seats total: 100 seats inside, primarily in the center of the market (and bar seating at the oyster bar and cocktail bar). 100 seats outside, with potential to add more along the sides of the building outside
- There are three full time managers.
- There is a shared prep kitchen in back for vendors
- Community calendar will feature various weekly meet ups including chef events, foodie type stuff, and business oriented classes.
- Service station in back of market for silverware, water urns, plates, etc. will also feature a POS system for Wine checkout.
- There's parking. The adjacent Whitney Parking lot will be used solely for St. Roch Market.