With so many year-round farmers markets, it's hard to complain about access to stellar ingredients in L.A. Actually, we complain all the time. Sure, we have The Original Farmer's Market, but where is our version of San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace, with its dozens of local food vendors? Acme Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery, Prather Ranch meat, Stonehouse olive oil, Boccalone Salumeria, even an all-things-fungi shop. We. Want. One. Too.
Enter the Market at Santa Monica Place (a.k.a the soon to re-open renovated Santa Monica mall). The space is part of a new "rooftop dining deck" that will include restaurants, a food court, and an "artisan marketplace" (their word, not ours). It comes with ocean views, too. Squid Ink spoke with Michael Guerin, Assistant VP at Macerich, the real estate developer behind the renovation of the mall, about the marketplace plans.
Squid Ink: A local food market in LA. Finally. Why?
Michael Guerin: The idea was a full shopping experience, but the market itself really evolved from a lot of feedback from locals. They kept saying that's what they wanted. It's a little like a combination of the Ferry Building in San Francisco and Chelsea Market out of New York, and a touch of a farmers market. But really it's meant to complement the farmers market, to present artisan vendors that aren't at the market.
SI: Does that mean the old 1980s mall food court model is dead?
MG: No, the food court at Santa Monica Place was actually one of the most successful. It's really more about how you present a food court now. People want to feel good, they want a good experience, and if you put them in a dark and dingy environment, that's what they feel like. If you give them ocean and city views, they're going to enjoy the experience. And we aren't going with all national food court retailers in our food court. We're doing more local things like Pinches Tacos on Sunset Blvd., instead of things like La Salsa.
SI: What's the marketplace space like?
MG: We've got 17 individual retail spaces that each average 600 square feet, and 4 kiosks. It's not opening with the rest [of the mall -- in August], because we really want to get the right mix of the tenants. We don't want to rush it. It will probably open later this year or early next year.
SI: Dream vendors?
MG: My dream would be to have the best of the best in each category -- cheese, chocolate, a bakery, olives -- retail representations of people who are known as local gourmets. But if it happens to be someone from San Francisco or elsewhere in California, that's great too.
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SI: You currently have commitments from two established local retailers -- The Curious Palate, a market, Kings Road Cafe, a cafe and coffee roaster -- as well as the San Francisco chocolatier Coco-luxe Confections. Any plans for the little guy who makes one or two relishes and is just getting started?
MG: Absolutely. This is really the opportunity for someone to launch a business, like a dessert woman I'm talking to right now who doesn't have a retail shop yet. But the reality is when when you take someone who already has a retail presentation, they know how to run a business. But the new businesses, we really want them, too.
SI: Wine and beer?
MG: We'd really like to have a wine boutique, and are up for approvals right now. But it's a long process.