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VOL. 132 | NO. 254 | Monday, December 25, 2017

South Main Market Adding New Vendors Soon

By Andy Meek

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Civil Pour is one of the newest additions to the South Main Market and offers drinks like local beer, wine and craft cocktails along with small bites and other items at its space in Memphis’ new food hall.

It opened there a few days ago, another addition to the vendor mix at the food hall, which itself opened in recent weeks at 409 S. Main St.

Rebecca Dyer, the market’s managing partner, said the plan is to grow the number of vendors to as many as 14 – there are seven now – and three more should be announced soon and working toward a February opening.

The just-opened South Main Market, which brought the food hall trend to Memphis, has started with seven concepts and is poised to announce and open a few more soon, according to managing partner Rebecca Dyer. (Emily VanGilder)

The market’s arrival brought the food hall trend to Memphis in time for the holidays. It’s a little like a farmers’ market, with local chefs and entrepreneurs running their own spaces inside the hall. And Memphis’ version is a product of the owners talking to stakeholders in other food hall cities like Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans, before deciding what would work best here.

The concepts at the version in South Main range from a satellite location of the Java Cabana coffeehouse to Civil Pour to a second location for City East Bagel & Grille. And the owners aren’t done seeking out more to add to the mix.

“We sat down and said let’s put down the types of foods or types of chefs we’d like to have in the venue, and we’ve managed to check off quite a few of them already,” Dyer said. “We’d still love to have Italian in there. We’d love to have Mexican in there. I’d like to have a butcher, if we could figure out a butcher who could sell food internally to some of the chefs, and also to the community, to the neighborhood. And who could maybe do some cooking lessons.”

Jennifer Oswalt, president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission, says there’s an opportunity to do even more. Already, visitors are greeted with a well-curated mix, she says, that include coffee, bar, floral and new food concepts.

Those, she continues, are a natural complement to the event space on the second floor. “And there’s even further opportunity on the remaining floor and roof for other temporary or permanent uses.”

Dyer first got the idea for a Memphis food hall after visiting the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.

The three-story structure at 409 S. Main St. she and her partners settled on sits at the corner of Huling Avenue and was briefly owned by Visible Music College.

Besides Civil Pour, Java Cabana and City East Bagel & Grille, the market’s other concepts include Wallflower Memphis, Kinfolk, Magnolia and Coco.

“When we first started talking about doing this, we had to figure out what was the clientele,” Dyer says. “I’ll pick on Germantown, because I live in Germantown. If we’d built it out there, most people in Germantown – we seem to like chain restaurants. We’re older, little higher income, empty nesters. We like to eat at home. So we thought that’s really not the customer we saw at all in these food halls we went to. “It was the young, educated, maybe a young family, who cared about the quality of the food as opposed to the ease of getting it. It came down to 38103 and 38104 as the best fit for the hall. Then I fell in love with that building, and it was done.”

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