DeKalb Market Hall: Vendors give a sneak peek ahead of opening

After months of delays, the DeKalb Market Hall is here.

The subterranean food hall, initially scheduled to open in November, is slated to debut Friday in Downtown Brooklyn at 445 Albee Square West at 11 a.m. When it does, it will be the largest of its kind in the city, with 40 vendors.

We took a tour of the food hall before its opening day. Scroll down to see photos.

Founder Anna Castellani, who owns the market Foragers, was inspired by the food halls of Asia and Europe when envisioning the DeKalb Market Hall, which is located in the City Point development that is also home to an Alamo Drafthouse, Target and, soon, Trader Joe’s.

“When we showed it to almost everyone here it was empty,” Castellani said on Wednesday, two days before the opening, as vendors were busy putting the finishing touches on their stalls and making samples from the kitchens.

Watch our Facebook Live video of the market’s pre-opening party on Thursday to see the stalls for yourself.

Castellani brought many of the vendors, which are all New York City-based, onboard. When she pitched them, “I brought up neon,” she said. “And the fact that New York did not have a [food hall that was] vibrant, casual, not overly defined, not heavily bogged down with architecture. We gave these guys a pad on the floor and said have fun.”

Vendors had free reign in the design of their stalls, with one exception – they all needed to have a neon sign. Unlike most food halls, where the vendors cycle in and out, Castellani said the concepts at DeKalb Market Hall “will be here for a long time.”

“It’s not meant to be a transitional space,” said Castellani, whose own business, Foragers, has a presence in the food hall, with a butcher, market and rotisserie. “I wanted people here and excited and creating a home.”

New York City is not lacking in food halls, with the Canal Street Market, Queens Crossing in Flushing and, nearby, Gotham Market at the Ashland among just the recent openings. But Castellani said she hasn’t seen anything quite like hers yet.

“The main difference is it’s not real estate driven – it’s food driven,” she said. “It’s much more casual. When I think of the existing food halls, I don’t see this.”

In addition to the vendors, the market has a performance space slated to open in September with a full bar.

“Once the event space is active I want to do a night market in here,” Castellani said.

There are also two restaurants opening soon next to the food hall – Han Dynasty and Fortina.

Here’s a look at a few of the vendors opening in DeKalb Market Hall, from established players to brand-new concepts.