A week after New Yorkers said goodbye to the beloved, nearly 80-year old Essex Street Market, the new version across the street opened its doors. Neighbors, members of the community, and city officials, gathered on Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new location at Essex Crossing.
“It’s bittersweet, that was my home for so long, I grew up in there,” said Eric Suh, whose family owns the 25-year-old New Star Fish Market. “But at the same time I’m excited about this beautiful new building—we are just excited about having more opportunity to serve the community.”
“Yes, that old building has a ton of character, but the heart and soul of Essex Market really lies within the vendors and the shoppers who make-up this community,” Suh added.
The new 37,000-square-foot market is triple the size of the original one, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which led the relocation project. The new space houses 37 vendors, including the 21 that operated in the old location, as well as newcomers like Don Ceviche and the Lower East Side Ice Cream Factory.
The space also features a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and other programming, as well as two restaurant spaces.
“It’s [been] 80 years since LaGuardia Essex Street Market has been the place to find food from cultures around the world, and the Lower East Side is a community that comes together around great foods since forever, whether it’s empanadas or egg creams, it’s always here,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said at the opening event.
Brewer also spoke about the years-long relocation process and its complexities.
“There was a lot of drama—I must have been to a hundred meetings to figure out how we’re gonna pull this off,” Brewer added.
Following the ribbon-cutting, vendors rang bells in unison and clapped.
“It was worth it, everything is different, but it’s really nice,” Ramona Rodriguez, one of the owners of Luis Meat Market, said about the move.
Some vendors also applauded the relocation process. “I think it’s a really good model to help support small businesses, because we really need that sort of thing in our communities, to keep the character of our neighborhoods, because they’re becoming so homogenous,” Rhonda Kave, owner of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates said.
“That’s the thing that makes our communities vibrant and attractive, it’s the small mom-and-pop operations and the one-on-one interaction; so it’s important to maintain that,” Kave added.