Downtown's Grand Central Market is getting a makeover. With nearly 100 years of existence, the 27,000-square-foot open-air bazaar has long been a Los Angeles landmark, and planners have been spearheading a major revamp by inviting in dozens of new vendors to refresh the 40 food stalls. Sticky Rice, an homage to Thai street food, was the first new-wave business to arrive, and a handful more are rolling out. Aside from the new businesses, the market is sporting a new paint job and polished floors; in the works, according to the organizers, are WiFi access, new public bathrooms and a market cooling system.
The market's owner, Yellin Company, has hired San Francisco-based architect firm BCV and developer Rick Moses, who helped piece together the Americana in Glendale. Joseph Shuldiner, founder of the Altadena Farmers Market, and Kevin West, former W Magazine editor, have been brought on as consultants. According to organizers, the market will not close its doors during the current renovation but is planning a grand reopening event in late 2013. Turn the page for a list of what's to come.
Soft opening: May
G&B Coffee, which is named after the owners, Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski, will be rotating single-origin coffees, teas and espresso drinks. Glanville and Babinski are ex-Intelligentsia employees — Glanville was VP of strategy and Babinski was the lead trainer at Intelligentsia Venice — and have come from a recent coffee bar collaboration with Sqirl Cafe in Silver Lake. The award-winning baristas (Babinski placed second in the 2012 U.S. Barista Championship and Glanville won the 2008 U.S. Barista Championship title) will be setting up on the Hill Street side of the market.
Valerie at Grand Central Market
Soft opening: May 31
Valerie Confections will offer a modern interpretation of the coffee shop counter experience in the 1900s. She has structured the prose of her menu based on menus from the mid-20th century. “The idea is to try to mix the history of the market with today,” owner Valerie Gordon tells us. A highlight on the menu: melted cheese on toast. “That's the language that was used in coffee shops in the mid-20th century for a grilled cheese sandwich,” Gordon says. “We're serving it open-faced with parsley salad, house-made pickles and black olives.” There will be a selection of pastries plus $2 house coffee; they're open for breakfast and lunch.
Soft opening: June
Named after Kicking Horse, the infamous horse thief in Larry McMurtry's novel Comanche Moon, Horse Thief will bring Texas-style BBQ to the market. Helmed by two native Texans, Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi, the restaurant will showcase classic smoked meats of the region, such as brisket, spare ribs and chicken. It's McElroy and Malixi's first restaurant in Los Angeles. “We are doing classic, old-school Central Texas BBQ smoked meats with new-school sides,” McElroy says. Those sides include a potato salad with bacon and blue cheese and a coleslaw with fennel, apple and celery. “It's very regional,” Malixi adds. “Pulled pork is big out there and Central Texas BBQ uses a lot of dry rub and brisket.” They're aiming for a late June opening and will be on the patio on the Hill Street side of the market.
The Oyster Gourmet
Soft opening: September
Seafood specialist Christophe Happillon (who has worked at Joe's, Akasha, Church & State and Le Zinque) is known for his pop-up oyster bars. Happillon's stand at the market will offer as much West Coast-sourced seafood as possible, including mussels, scallops, clams, oysters and sea urchin. The menu also will include specific pairings with wine and Champagne.
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