Mercado Revolution

27 Feb

The people behind Mercado Revolution are friends of mine. They’ve done an amazing job collecting wonderful experiences throughout the world, and they want to bring some of what they’ve experienced here to western New York.  But it hasn’t just been as facile as checking out markets and copying what they observe – they’ve done proper research and spoken with the people who run these facilities and operate the stalls. They have a particular vision, and if they pull it off it’ll be magnificent.  

I have no doubt that they’ll pull it off, because Jeremy Horwitz, formerly of Buffalo Chow and currently of iLounge, is especially diligent and has a knack for knowing what will succeed, and making it so. 

I haven’t been to Spain since before I was a teenager, but Mercado is not going to necessarily look like other markets with which you’re familiar – it won’t be like the Broadway Market or St Lawrence or Rochester. It will be…

Western New York’s first culinary bazaar. Built on the solid foundations of Spanish markets such as Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boqueria, and informed by successful American versions such as Washington, D.C.’s Union Market, Mercado will be a fantastic place to eat, drink, and participate in the global food revolution. 

Imagine a marketplace that would offer some of the best quality food in WNY all under one roof, and on top of that it would have spots for pop-ups and opportunities for chefs and purveyors to collaborate and experiment.  On top of all that, Mercado is bringing Scott Kollig, a talented young chef, home to WNY. Kollig is Chef de Partie at Jose Andres’ exclusive, modernist Washington, DC restaurant Minibar

“Good food changes things. One new dish can define a city. One new restaurant can revitalize a neighborhood. One new drink can turn an obscure bar into a tourist destination for a century. One new destination – if it’s truly wonderful – can get residents excited, attact tourists, and change a city.

We’re going to create something truly wonderful for Western New York.”

One of the myriad inspirations for this idea is a restaurant that Horwitz and his family experienced in Asheville, NC called Curate. It was opened in the mountains of western North Carolina by veterans of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli and Jose Andres’ Washington flagship restaurants, and it’s gained national recognition. Asheville isn’t a big city or, necessarily, a cosmopolitan one, but it’s become something of a foodie paradise. Like Asheville, Buffalo has a wonderfully burgeoning food scene that’s light-years ahead of what existed a dozen years ago. Its metropolitan area has less than half the population of Erie County, and median household income is $32,000; in Buffalo, it’s $49,000. The conditions here are ripe for something like Mercado. 

Mercado is happening, and it is running a Kickstarter right now to raise money for equipment and build-out. The $150k ask is ambitious, but this is a huge and exciting project. A Kickstarter doesn’t just raise money, it creates buzz, gets people excited, makes them feel like they’re part of a new revolution.

Above all, though, Mercado would be really fun. A curated group of the best of the best in WNY, all of whom would be encouraged to experiment and collaborate. 

Check it out below, and follow along on Twitter

18 Responses to “Mercado Revolution”

  1. jimd54 at 7:47 am #

    In my house, this is fabulous news. My son is 26, goes to school in Chicago and is a foodie. Whenever we visit he takes us to his latest find, a gastro pub, speakeasy. organic butcher. It is wonderful and while we have a few things here, it really is limitless.
    A few years ago during the Bass Pro, what the hell to do with downtown discussion I suggested something similar. My idea was to tap into the student population during the off season. Of course my idea was pilloried. Just sayin\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

  2. rhmaccallum at 8:06 am #

    Confused. Is this “Mercado” intended to be a glorified food court or a place where I could go and actually purchase sashimi quality fish for my own use at home?
    Restaurants, market or both?

    • I too am a bit confused as to what this will be like…it’s not a public market, but HOW is it not one of those? I asked on Twitter what it would be like, and the response was something that looked like a nice public market. (Which would be TOTALLY fine, by the way.) I do find the idea exciting enough that I contributed, but I do want to see specifics as to the type of place this is and how it differs from an upper-scale public market (or store with a public market vibe). I was never a fan of the Buffalo Chow website, but this project could be incredibly exciting!

      My other concern was prices. I’d hate for this to be basically a place for affluent foodies.

    • Alan Bedenko at 10:59 am #

      I don’t know about sashimi fish, but the idea is both – raw materials, prepared foods for take-out, and eat-in.

      • rhmaccallum at 11:50 am #

        Thanks Alan. In that case I’m all for it. Location and density will be vital to it’s success.

    • Derek J. Punaro at 11:05 am #

      Typically, European mercados offer both small plate/tapas style dining and raw ingredients, but it ultimately depends on the mix of vendors. I have a few photos from Mercado de San Miguel here:

      • Alan Bedenko at 11:46 am #

        That building is like a dream come true.

      • Derek J. Punaro at 12:34 pm #

        It was beautiful – what better way to entice passersby than with an all glass storefront? I will go back through my RAW photos and see if I have more from inside.

  3. Colin Eager at 9:53 am #

    I’d love to know where the vendors will be coming from. Is this about giving existing businesses a new venue to show off their stuff, or is it an incubator designed to help new vendors get off the ground? Is this place designed to pull business away from other quality places? If not, how not? Where’s it gonna be located?

    The website uses a lot of language to suggest that this place would provide some kind of public benefit beyond offering nice food, but it’s hard to take those claims seriously until we get more details.

    • Alan Bedenko at 10:47 am #

      The owners are rolling out details slowly, so I’ll wait for them to do so rather than writing out what I think the answer is. Sorry I can’t be more specific, it’s just not my place to do it.

  4. Christopher Smith at 10:26 am #

    Can you figure out a way to have Flamenco music play while I read this post?

  5. hwhamlin at 10:45 am #

    Very interesting. Sounds like Transit Road is not in the running for their location, thank goodness. Interesting that the first market depicted in the video was a dead ringer for the Central Terminal Concourse – one of my favorite indoor spaces in WNY.

  6. Michael Rebmann at 10:52 am #

    I don’t understand the negativity in some of the comments. Jeremy Hrowitz is obviously proposing a visionary food experience, unlike anything currently available in Buffalo.

    • If I was one of the commenters you thought negative, sorry…that wasn’t my intent. I’m genuinely excited (enough so as to have already donated to the Kickstarter), but I am also trying to find a more specific idea of what this will be and in what ways it won’t be like anything we have already.

      • Michael Rebmann at 11:17 am #

        I am glad to see you donated through Kickstarter, I did as well 2 days ago. I would surmise, though I can’t say for sure, that Jeremy probably is exercising caution by not revealing too many details in order to protect his idea.

      • Colin Eager at 11:51 am #

        I’m also considering kicking in, but I’d like a bit more info on what the “revolution” would entail.

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