There is a paradox to opening nights. For the restaurateur, it is the culmination of months of planning, certifications and practice. Yet for an opening night to be successful, all efforts put forth by the restaurateur should appear effortless to the diner. This is also true in the grocery business. Shelves are perpetually stocked, yet the measure of a good visit is how quick a customer can get in and out. Two Bits Market in downtown avoided this paradox, because as much the ownership has put their soul into this new market, so has the neighborhood.
From the time when Two Bits Market was just a dusty space on a rapidly changing Fifth Street, the ownership reached out through social media and in person asking their neighbors what they wanted from the market. There was also articles in blogdowntown, mainly about the construction and bureaucratic hurdles that had kept the market from opening, which solicited even more community feedback and support. Two Bits soft-opened in early January, and had their grand opening February 1st.
Though it all, we have also paid several visits to Two Bits Market. From its soft opening when it took a little bit of creativity to scratch out a meal from their stock to now where we an easily do a weeks shopping in one visit. And on each of those visits, we scan the aisles with an eye on what's new based on the feedback from the customers. Thanks to an apple connoisseur we picked up some Arkansas Black one week and the following week the neighborhood Vegans celebrated the arrival of Daiya cheese. When complimenting the responsiveness of the market, Co-owner Brandi Lozano effusively responded, "The neighborhood really wanted us here and so we listen."
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In addition to the stock, the market is also responsive to the pulse of Downtown. Although you can get produce nearby at Grand Central Market, it closes at a time most people in Downtown are just getting home from work. Meanwhile Two Bits Market is open till 10 p.m on weekdays and till 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They have market specials during Art Walk and if an active urban lifestyle leaves little time to cook, Two Bits has a line-up of deli sandwiches. Having gone through the menu, our favorite is the Two Bits tuna. The tuna is lightly tossed in lemon and mixed with dill and chopped almonds. The almonds proved to a truly excellent addition as it added a subtle roasted flavor and textural contrast to the meaty tuna.
In the weeks since that celebratory opening night, the news of Two Bits Market's arrival has filtered out past the Historic Core. In fact, on a recent Saturday visit we luckily enough to put in our sandwich order right before a large tour group streamed in. "It's been surprising, overwhelming." Lozano said as she reflected on the response to the market. And she still sees plenty room for growth for the market in the months to come. And as Two Bits Market continues to evolve, its measure of success is the beaming smiles that can be found behind and in the front of the counter.