Hold your horses, Central City. Upcoming public market Jack & Jake's (1300 O.C. Haley)—the anticipated two-level farmer's market/grocery store hybrid with two restaurants overseen by Tableau alum Ben Thibodeaux , a seed bank, a beer cave, a beer bar, a bourbon bar, an oyster bar, a coffee bar, space for educational programs, a gallery, and more—is still about six weeks from opening, Ian McNulty reports this week:
Approvals and inspections are still pending, and Jack & Jake's still needs to hire 100 or so employees beyond the managers now on board. Work continues across an intricately designed space, which is also home to Jack & Jake's wholesale business.
The wholesale business supplies locally sourced produce and foods to "local schools, universities, hospitals and underserved communities," according to the Jack & Jake's website, though no specific institutions are named. In 2010, Jack & Jake's attempted to open a food hub on
Airline Highway Earhart Blvd in Gert Town (the current Landis Construction building), but plans fell through when the team ran out of money. At that point Jack & Jake's worked on developing its wholesale distribution.
At the whopping 23,000 square foot OCH location—formerly Myrtle Banks school—a $17 million dollar renovation led by Alembic Community Development has transformed the interior into a sprawling fresh food mecca. Jack & Jake's has received "a mix of public and private dollars" to the tune of $2 or so million to fund the project, with the intention of bringing Central City affordable, fresh groceries and jobs. As for all the fancypants accoutrement, Founder/CEO John Burns Jr. tells McNulty:
"You can look at the crystal chandeliers and say this is high end, but it's not. If you can put inexpensive Creole tomatoes in a bin under a crystal chandelier in a beautiful historic building in Central City, I think that's pretty cool."
Like St. Roch Market's forage program, Jack & Jake's also cuts out the middle man, sourcing directly from farmers, in order to reduce the price of local foods. Also similar to St. Roch Market, community outreach and educational programs will be a big part of the plan. Unlike St. Roch Market, however, all aspects of Jack & Jake's will be run solely by Jack & Jake's staff, rather than leasing to independent vendors.