Essex Street Market vendors can’t wait for new Lower East Side location

Vendors are thrilled about the wrap-around glass windows featured in Essex Market's future location on the Lower East Side.
Vendors are thrilled about the wrap-around glass windows featured in Essex Market’s future location on the Lower East Side. Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

When the new Essex Street Market opens next year, it will have state-of-the-art equipment and restaurants in a shiny new tower.

But for some vendors, the most exciting feature will be the massive glass windows that wrap around the building, putting their delicacies on display on the bustling Lower East Side.

The current market is tucked behind colorful concrete walls, and the vendors said the foodie haven needs more exposure.

“There will be a lot of buzz when the market opens,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who walked through the existing market Tuesday before checking out construction of the new site. “If I were a betting person, I’d guess the traffic is going to increase like crazy once they are in a new space.”

That’s what Saad Bourkadi is counting on. The former CPA opened Essex Olive & Spice House in May. He is hoping to lure in more customers with his array of olives, oil and spices. The oil comes from his family’s farm in Morocco.

“People are happily surprised when they see the quality here and everyone is so welcoming,” Bourkadi said of the market’s atmosphere. “This is something that doesn’t exist all over the place. The market needs to be publicized a little bit more.”

The market has a rich history that dates to 1940 when it opened with 475 stalls in four buildings. But the city-owned and operated facility struggled over the years as tastes and demographics changed and its infrastructure aged.

Ira Stolzenberg, owner of Rainbo’s Fish and Tra La La Juice Bar, has seen all of it. He and his late husband, Ron Budinas, opened a kosher fish shop more than 40 years ago in one of the former market buildings across the street. They expanded to offer juice and fresh baked goods.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Stolzenberg said of the new market. “The heating and the cooling in this building is totally inadequate.”

The new 37,000-square-foot market will be across Delancey Street as part of the massive Essex Crossing commercial and residential development.

Officials said it will be nearly triple the size of the current market and include a large seating area and event space as well as a demonstration kitchen. It will also have expanded hours. The current market closes most days at 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. — causing it to lose after-work shoppers to Whole Foods and elsewhere.

All current vendors will receive new equipment and customized space for free as part of the move.

Glen said she is confident the renewed interest in markets will continue.

“The world comes full circle,” she said. “In the early 1900s, you would always go to a market where you could get everything and then it got very specialized.

“Now, over the past decade, you see it again in New York and in other cities,” Glen said. “People love the experience of being in a central place where you can get a little bit of everything.”