While visitors to the Bronx may see the return of its night market as a fun way to spend the warm nights of spring and summer, those who call the borough home see it as a chance to alter preconceptions.
“We want the Bronx to not be scary anymore. A lot of people are scared to come up to the Bronx, and we’re showing them that we can do as much as any other borough can,” said Randy Carpenter, 48, who owns Bronx-based The Fried Kitchen.
And when the Bronx Night Market opens its second season at Fordham Plaza on May 25, he will be there — once again. He’ll just be joined by a beefed-up lineup, with more than 100 vendors on the roster.
The longtime chef founded the catering business with his son, 28-year-old Christopher Carpenter, in 2017 — Randy as the talent behind the food, Christopher as the brains behind the business side. As vendors during the market’s inaugural season, they served up a signature savory waffle topped with fried chicken.
The Fried Kitchen is among dozens of Bronx-based businesses slated for year two. More than 60 percent of the vendors are from the Bronx, according to organizers, and all are from New York, including restaurant Habanero Mexican Cuisine and dessert company The Uptown Vegan.
More than 10,000 people attended the five festival dates last year, according to organizers.
“You could feel the love in the air,” organizers Amanda Celestino and Marco Shalma said. “It was terrific.”
Listening to feedback, they said, five dates were added for 2019, with each one extended by an hour, and the vendors — representing the Caribbean, Mexico, China, Greece and beyond — offer an increased array of cuisines.
Each night of the outdoor festival features a different musical lineup of Bronx-based talent. The kickoff night includes performances by Bangladesh-born and New York City-raised Ami Mati, Bronx local Kelvin Tineo — musically known as Calvin Price — and New York City artist Caszoul.
Being at the market is an experience Randy said was an opportunity to learn from others while also teaching visitors about the Bronx’s unique community.
“Us local guys here in the Bronx want to show people that the Bronx is on fire again. We want to show there’s great chefs up here too. Not just from New York, but from all over the world."
When: 4 to 10 p.m. May 25, June 15 and 29, July 13 and 27, Aug. 17 and 31, Sept. 14 and 28 and Oct. 26 | Admission: Free entry | More: TheBronxNightMarket.com