There really is no shortage of popular mobile food purveyors in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill “Triangle area” such as food trucks and on-the-go mobile vendors, but another food movement that has been taking off as of late revolves around a new kind of convenience for customers: the food market or food hall. This brand new business model allows multiple different vendors to create and offer their delicious creations under one roof.
Food markets have been on the horizon for some time in the Triangle, and a few new ones are slated to open later in 2018, but Blue Dogwood Public Market in Chapel Hill has beaten them all to the punch. The Triangle’s first food market had its soft opening June 8 – 10 in its renovated space in a previous grocery store in downtown Chapel Hill and the grand opening is officially scheduled for June 15 – 17, which is this weekend.
You should know that not all food markets are created equally. One of this market’s partners, Sarah Boak, notes that their creation began about three years ago when Chef Kelly Taylor of Pizzelle Bakery said local vendors needed a new space of their own outside of the farmer’s markets that they could afford. Chef Kelly approached managing market partner, Jeff Boak, which then sparked the idea for the use of the old grocery store space on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.
” Blue Dogwood is a 4,000 sqft public market featuring a community of independent food businesses who celebrate local and regional food. Whatever you want to call us – a public market, a food hall, or just a great place to hang out – we are here to celebrate local food. Emphasis on celebrating. And local. And food.
Unlike many other food halls, Blue Dogwood goes more against the grain. The market has modest stalls for smaller/start-up, local vendors, to customize and maximize their stall space for less money, work with other small businesses in the community, and allow pop-up stalls for vendors to test out open spaces.
Sarah mentions this is why, despite some extra stall space, they are keeping the vendor list to seven currently. This community aspect also plays into the shared vendor kitchen space. “We want our vendors to renew after the one-year contract is up… We believe we have vendors that will do that and we want that!” said, Sarah.
Josh Gurlitz is another partner in the new venture who aided in various vendor decisions and the design, including the upcoming Phase 2 addition. This entails a beer garden slated to open within approximately six months after the market does.
So what can you expect at Blue Dogwood?
- Locally-sourced: It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the name of the Blue Dogwood game is featuring local goods and the locals behind them. This is shown through the food, the people, and even the market’s own bar, The Bar at Blue Dogwood, which has a number of local brews, ciders, and wine.
- Keep your favorites and try some new ones: This market doesn’t just want to showcase its housed vendors, but it wants to showcase others who want to try out some products in a pop-up stall or through use of the market’s shared kitchen.
- Limited menus to maximize the entire experience: By offering limited menus and smaller portion sizes, vendors can highlight their tried-and-true and new products alike while allowing customers to experience a number of items at multiple vendors during a trip through the market.
- A wide variety of unique offerings: Blue Dogwood showcases a little of everything, from baked goods and handmade chocolates to Columbian treats and unique “deli” meats. Customers can experience all different types, preferences, and backgrounds of the food and drink they consume while knowing the stalls are not in competition with the same items.
Who is serving what at the public market?
- The Bar at Blue Dogwood: This in-market bar will feature rotating local beer and cider from smaller vendors, as well as wine. James Crawford of Chatham Cider Works, one of the featured vendors, mentioned that he feels the area is prime for getting people aware.
- Chocolatay Confections: As the first permanent vendor space for the business, these handmade chocolates and confections are made with quality ingredients in a variety of delicious flavors.
- Left Bank Butchery: This is a true butcher shop providing locally-sourced meats in a stall space. Don’t miss the housemade charcuterie: That spicy spreadable sausage will stick with you!
- Pizzelle Bakery: Run by one of the market’s managing partners, this gluten-free bakery offers Italian goods, such as pizzelle and delicious frangipane, with some twists. Let’s just say flavored soda coffees are on the table.
- Rumi Persian Cafe: Try out some of the flavorful meat and vegetarian dishes that Persian cuisine can offer, including koresh-e bamieh (okra & tomato stew). Bonus points if you can pronounce them correctly!
- Soul Cocina: You may have seen these Latin American-inspired goods at the Durham Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, but they have made roots at the market to offer the best of empanadas, yuca, and arepas. Don’t be afraid to ask how to eat the tamale!
- Vegan Flava Cafe: With addictive combinations of this vegan soul food, such as the almond “seafood” salad with the kale salad in a collard wrap, vegans and carnivores alike will swoon.
A little bit of everything @ Blue Dogwood
This is the one-stop shop for a variety of eats and treats for the family, a lunch outing with coworkers, or just a quick stop on-the-go to bring home. For those who go to the local farmer’s markets for groceries and know the local coffee shop owner’s name, knowing that you are supporting the community where you work and play has meaning. Blue Dogwood aims to capture that meaning and share it with the community.
More info about the new public market
Blue Dogwood is the first public market in North Carolina to focus on locally and regionally-produced products. The indoor market will feature 12 fresh food vendors, retail vendors, and pop-ups. Blue Dogwood maximizes the number of vendors to increase foot traffic, bring a more diverse market to the public, and create a more viable business opportunity for small businesses. We will be a community of like-minded small businesses who believe in working together to create something awesome.
Blue Dogwood believes in a business model where vendors help each other out with feedback and advice. We seek vendors willing to talk openly and share about their business and ideas. We encourage vendors to create mutually beneficial relationships, such as partnering in joint marketing, special events, and social media efforts. Vendors can crossover and use others’ products, such as a sandwich shop using a baker’s bread. If it makes sense for the vendors, we even encourage businesses to share a stall.
Vendor selectivity is critical to our community model because we all share a small space. We look for vendors with unique products and minimal overlap with other vendors. Blue Dogwood is small compared to other public markets, but this size gives us more flexibility and should allow us to build a stronger sense of community.
Blue Dogwood offers a small-batch kitchen on-site to rent, which includes rentable refrigeration and freezer space. The kitchen has basic equipment for prep work and small-scale food production. We are trying to create a plan for sharing highly-trained kitchen labor. We also coordinate with Piedmont Food & Ag Processing Center (PFAP) in Hillsborough if businesses need large-batch production.
So what are you looking forward to trying out the most at Blue Dogwood Public Market? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with the Chapel Hill Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Melissa Kahan for exclusive digital publication via TBN