Cronyism, selling alcohol illegally, receiving federal recovery dollars, charging incorrect sales tax: such are the accusations that Antigravity makes against the management of St. Roch Market in its July 2015 issue. Writer Andru Okun claims that Will Donaldson, Barre Tanguis, and other partners in Bayou Secret (managing entity of St. Roch Market) have mislead neighbors, are planning to open a neighboring restaurant that's being funded by charging steep leases to vendors, and more extremely detrimental claims.
While the St. Roch Market management hasn't made any public statements about the piece, and likely won't, Eater NOLA has obtained an email that Bayou Secret has sent to its vendors, which basically refutes many 'factual inaccuracies' in the article. Donaldson and Tanguis have already mentioned to The Times-Pic that they are adding SNAP and have intended to do so since opening three months ago. The neighboring building (which Antigravity claims will become a restaurant) was purchased before the St. Roch Market opened, back in November 2014, which is how the market has been able to offer off street parking.
Meanwhile, word on the street is that the ATC did show up at the market after the article went viral last week, but found it was operating in compliance with the law and with the correct beverage license. On top of that, baker and vendor Donna Maloney has left the following comment on the thread of the Antigravity piece:
My name is Donna Maloney and I am an actual vendor at the market. I have been reading this material for 2 months now and I feel that it is my turn to speak out.
Please keep in mind that an outsider wrote the Antigravity editorial. The author is a recent transplant and almost all of the information he has posted is inaccurate. I spoke with the author directly and he chose not publish any of the positive information that I gave him.
Remember that all of the negative posts affect 12 small businesses. TWELVE! You say it's not personal? It's personal!!!! We are all family owned, talented, and working around the clock to produce quality food as affordably as possible. We are working towards finding out how we can do that better every day: holding community events, canvasing the neighborhood and attending neighborhood meetings.
Most people who boycott the market don't come here. They don't see the fresh fish, meat, cheese, veggies and fruit. They don't look at the vendors shelves to be able to notice our beans, rice, noodles, flour and sugar. You want a market? Then come and support our market and give us a reason to supply more.
The facts that are being quoted about "mismanagement" are false. There was no grant money given to the owners. The renovation of the building was completed by the city with 3.7 million dollars partially from FEMA, as many buildings were. The buildout of the market was funded entirely by Bayou Secret and they went through the normal channels as would any other business. This is a straight real estate transaction and nothing more. This was the third proposal for the building and two other groups turned down the opportunity. That is what it is.
Bottom line. This is a LEGITIMATE, MORAL, and ETHICAL business. The owners were accepted because of their track record of starting small businesses and making them successful. We are still a new business, not even 3 months in. We have a lot of details on our agenda and we are fine-tuning it every week.
Please check your facts before you make a decision as big as posting inaccurate hate about MY business, my fellow vendors, and staff. It is all public information. I employ 9 people, and the market employs many more. These are neighborhood people. I try to make my place of business a warm, loving and welcoming environment for everyone who works here and comes here.
What do y'all think about the article and accusations? Leave a comment or send Eater a tip, and tell us how you feel about St. Roch Market.