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Small businesses lead roster of Liberty Public Market vendors

A look at what will be available come November

Liberty Public Market, coming soon.
Liberty Public Market, coming soon.

The under-construction Liberty Public Market announced its vendors on July 23rd, with an event showcasing an assortment of food purveyors specializing in foods ranging from lobster rolls to a natural meats butcher shop.

The 22,000-square-foot space is currently being outfitted to provide power, running water, drainage and gas lines to 24-30 distinct vendor spaces. The public market will operate as a collection of specialized vendor booths, much like Pike Place Market in Seattle, or the San Diego Public Market, which leveraged Kickstarter funds to build a similar model in a Barrio Logan warehouse, but closed in 2014 after two years in business.

Coronado restaurant group Blue Bridge Hospitality is behind this new project, which will be located in Liberty Station at 2816 Historic Decatur Road, right beside Stone Brewing. The ten vendors announced Thursday were mostly comprised of small local businesses. "Our first goal is to find local people," says Blue Bridge's David Spatafore, "People that are focused on one thing, and have something to sell not only for consumption on the premises — food to go — but also items that you can take home, so there's a shopping element to everything."

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For many of the vendors, taking on a market space will be the closest they've yet come to having a permanent storefront. Cecilia Cortazar Peterson has been operating a catering business, and will open Cecilia's Taqueria, offering tacos made with handmade corn tortillas and locally sourced ingredients. Mastiff Sausage is currently best known as the food truck that recently beat out big guns including Cowboy Star and Nine-Ten to win this year's Sausage Fest competition.

Businesses springing out of local farmers markets have also joined the project, with Pho Realz set to offer Vietnamese favorites pho and bahn mi, while Wicked Maine Lobster was recently started by a couple of Maine transplants who craft crab and lobster rolls, bisques, and chowders.

A rendering of the interior of the upcoming Liberty Public Market.

Spatafore believes their transition to a full-time business will be made easier with the public market model. "It's the easiest opening of a food space you possibly could get," he says. "I'm in the restaurant business so I understand. I'm not doing this as a landlord, I'm doing it as a restaurant guy here in San Diego, trying to make this work for the small guy. It would be easy to get a bunch of chains to get together and get in, but that's not what we want, that wouldn't have any appeal at all."

There are some more familiar businesses on board to anchor the lineup, including Blue Bridge-owned ice cream shop MooTime Creamery. Venissimo Cheese will also be there, along with Fully Loaded Juice from Encinitas and artisan coffee roasters The West Bean.

Liberty Public Market is due to open on or before November 1, in order to ensure its array of specialty local food items are available for the holiday season.

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Liberty Public Market, coming soon.
Liberty Public Market, coming soon.

The under-construction Liberty Public Market announced its vendors on July 23rd, with an event showcasing an assortment of food purveyors specializing in foods ranging from lobster rolls to a natural meats butcher shop.

The 22,000-square-foot space is currently being outfitted to provide power, running water, drainage and gas lines to 24-30 distinct vendor spaces. The public market will operate as a collection of specialized vendor booths, much like Pike Place Market in Seattle, or the San Diego Public Market, which leveraged Kickstarter funds to build a similar model in a Barrio Logan warehouse, but closed in 2014 after two years in business.

Coronado restaurant group Blue Bridge Hospitality is behind this new project, which will be located in Liberty Station at 2816 Historic Decatur Road, right beside Stone Brewing. The ten vendors announced Thursday were mostly comprised of small local businesses. "Our first goal is to find local people," says Blue Bridge's David Spatafore, "People that are focused on one thing, and have something to sell not only for consumption on the premises — food to go — but also items that you can take home, so there's a shopping element to everything."

Sponsored
Sponsored

For many of the vendors, taking on a market space will be the closest they've yet come to having a permanent storefront. Cecilia Cortazar Peterson has been operating a catering business, and will open Cecilia's Taqueria, offering tacos made with handmade corn tortillas and locally sourced ingredients. Mastiff Sausage is currently best known as the food truck that recently beat out big guns including Cowboy Star and Nine-Ten to win this year's Sausage Fest competition.

Businesses springing out of local farmers markets have also joined the project, with Pho Realz set to offer Vietnamese favorites pho and bahn mi, while Wicked Maine Lobster was recently started by a couple of Maine transplants who craft crab and lobster rolls, bisques, and chowders.

A rendering of the interior of the upcoming Liberty Public Market.

Spatafore believes their transition to a full-time business will be made easier with the public market model. "It's the easiest opening of a food space you possibly could get," he says. "I'm in the restaurant business so I understand. I'm not doing this as a landlord, I'm doing it as a restaurant guy here in San Diego, trying to make this work for the small guy. It would be easy to get a bunch of chains to get together and get in, but that's not what we want, that wouldn't have any appeal at all."

There are some more familiar businesses on board to anchor the lineup, including Blue Bridge-owned ice cream shop MooTime Creamery. Venissimo Cheese will also be there, along with Fully Loaded Juice from Encinitas and artisan coffee roasters The West Bean.

Liberty Public Market is due to open on or before November 1, in order to ensure its array of specialty local food items are available for the holiday season.

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Comments

Sounds great. Hopefully, they will include a pizza place in there as well. If this location turns out to be like Fanuiel Hall in Boston, where you can nosh your way from one end to the other, I think it will be a big success.

July 25, 2015

This development cannot measure up to Pike Place Market or Faneuil Hall in Boston. Pike Place Market sits on 9 acres and hosts over 350,000 square feet of space for vendors. Faneuil Hall in Boston uses over 300,000 square feet for the market. To put it in perspective, Pike Place Market and the vendors nearby (like the original -first- Starbucks) sits on more real estate than the San Diego Convention Center. Pike Place has over 240 vendor stalls and then you can add the dozens of food vendor/restaurants on to that number.

Liberty Public Market will shoehorn vendors into a 22,000 square foot building. To put this in perspective, the average Albertson's store is 60,000 square feet. So you could fit three of the Liberty Public Markets into one Albertson's.

July 26, 2015

Fair Point. I don't use the comparison for scope, but to exemplify the open stall market concept. The Barrio Logan reference provides localized context and implied risk.

Perhaps if the West Bean grows to a fifteenth the size of Starbucks we may consider this one a success.

July 26, 2015

It's all good. I enjoy your stories, Ian. I should share that I lived in Seattle for several years and became a regular at Pike Place. I also often visited the public market on Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C.

It would be fantastic to have something similar in San Diego. But I believe that something of the Pike Place scale could never be accomplished here. The famous public markets grew organically, over a long period of time. And Pike Place has had it's financial challenges from time-to-time as well. When I see these stories, like the market that took over the old Frasier Boilerworks building and now Liberty. I am disappointed by the scale and frustrated by comparisons to Pike Place.

Pike Place is more than a public market. It's an (non-profit) institution that not only shepherds the marketplace, it also is a food bank, senior center, medical services, safety net for low-income and furnishes other community services.

On the other hand, San Diego County has a thriving farmer's market scene. Due to our nice weather, our population can count on the regular farmers markets to be open -- not rained out or too cold, like Seattle.

You're reporting a story. The developed of Liberty wants to call it a "public market".... okay. Semantics.

July 26, 2015

Just another example of small town thinking of San Diego.

July 27, 2015
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