“I think Brooklyn deserves all this,” said DeKalb Market Hall managing partner Anna Castellani as she guided Brownstoner on a hard-hat tour of the subterranean cafeteria. Beneath the mixed-use behemoth of Downtown Brooklyn’s second City Point tower, a sprawling food market is quickly taking shape.
What is it Brooklyn deserves? Great food.
Castellani, founder of Dumbo’s restaurant and grocery Foragers Market, handpicked the 55 eateries that will soon open outposts in the sprawling 30,000-square-foot space. The Brooklyn native stocks her impressively fresh grocery with food from a 28-acre farm she runs with her husband upstate.
From beloved borough ice creamery Ample Hills to Katz’s Delicatessen’s first venture beyond its original Lower East Side location, the range of vendors also includes Jackson Heights’ Arepa Lady and the just-announced Italian joint Fortina — a Westchester wood-oven establishment. (The sit-down Fortina as well as a Trader Joe’s will share space with the market but are, technically, separate.)
There are hints the decor will be as tasty as the food. The design of the individual stations will be left completely up to the vendors — with one catch. “Everyone’s required to have old fashioned neon,” Castellani said with a smile, noting a personal preference and nostalgia for what she finds to be a dying industry decor.
For the Fulton Landing Seafood Company — a fresh-seafood canteen — their station in DeKalb Market Hall represents the eatery’s first ever permanent location, having previously existed only as a booth at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar.
“I expect everybody to be there,” Fulton Landing partner Jason Lux said of the anticipated crowd at DeKalb. As for his contribution, Fulton Landing will have an open kitchen with a raw bar, so patrons can watch fresh oysters being shucked in front of them. The seafood station will offer Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies for dessert. A frozen virgin cocktail is in the works.
As for Lux’s station design, he’s keeping that under wraps, only hinting to Brownstoner that it will involve, “black iron and clean white lines.”
For vendor Bun-Ker — famous for being a “wormhole to Central Vietnam,” as one Yelp reviewer aptly put it — their station at DeKalb Market will represent a first venture into Brooklyn from the restaurant’s current Ridgewood space. It’s certainly a step up in terms of accessibility for patrons: Getting to the original outpost involves either taking a bus or hoofing it from the Jefferson Street L station.
Bun-Ker’s DeKalb menu will include banh mi, Vietnamese-style ice coffee, shiso limeade, watermelon cucumber goji berry juice, fresh pressed sugarcane, and soft serve ice cream in traditional flavors like black sesame and green tea. And the prices will be the same or slightly lower than at the current restaurant, according to chef and owner Jimmy Tu.
In addition to the variety of vendors, the food hall will also have plenty of late-night and family programming, and its own entrance to the DeKalb subway, which includes the B, D, N, Q, and R lines.
As with City Point itself, DeKalb Market Hall will certainly make an impact on opening, now scheduled for this fall. In addition to supplying the area with a behemoth food destination, City Point will also add over 600,000 square feet of retail, a public green space the size of Bryant Park’s lawn (above an underground parking garage containing 650 spots) and 1,280 residential units.
Castellani anticipates that, as a result of the development, the area will go, “from zero to a million people.”
Castellani, who grew up just blocks away on Livingston Street, feels as though City Point will truly benefit the community, noting that the area is becoming more and more residential — indeed, the former Albee Square Mall buildings on the site of City Point had only a total of 50 residential units, according to Castellani. (For four years following the demolition of Albee Square Mall, the site briefly hosted the DeKalb Market, an open air bazaar at which vendors peddled their wares from repurposed shipping containers.)
The Hall will equally serve both the old and new aspects of the nabe, Castellani believes, while maintaining the colorful Brooklyn character she grew up with.
“We’re losing a lot of the personality that was making Brooklyn famous,” she laments, but “DeKalb Market Hall is being built for everybody.”
[Photos by Hannah Frishberg]
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