What is a Food Hall & Public Market?
Food halls are large halls housing multiple, independent stalls selling ready to eat food. Typically food halls do not have chain restaurants and focus instead on more local, diverse businesses to celebrate the culture(s) and inherent strengths of a community.
Public markets are a year-round (often daily) gathering of independent food producers selling a range of products; for example, produce, meats, fish, milk and cheeses, flowers - almost always with a focus on local / regional, seasonality and craft.
PS - Salt City Market is also an incubator space: a supportive environment where food entrepreneurs can start and grow their business.
When will Salt City Market open - and why should I sign up early?
Construction on the market begins in early summer 2019 and we project the building to be open by fall 2020. We highly encourage individuals interested in becoming a Food Merchant at the market to apply now as we have a detailed training process, specifically designed to equip you with all the skills, habits, knowledge and brand exposure you need to run a successful food business.
How big is the typical stall?
We’ll have a total of 8-10 stalls, ranging in size from 150-300 square feet. Most stalls will be in-line next to one another; a few stalls will be ‘island’ style, floating in the middle of the market and surrounded on 2-3 sides by stools.
What comes with a stall?
Salt City Market will supply your basic heavy equipment and buildout e.g., plumbing/electrical, hood, oven/range, refrigeration, 3-bay sink, prep tables and POS (Point of Sale). Food Merchants are responsible for their own smallwares and any larger speciality pieces e.g., tandoor oven, Hobart mixer, etc.
Two stalls will have no hood (for concepts that have cooking/baking offsite or don’t require a hood e.g., juices, smoothies, salad or raw concepts). One stall will be equipped for solid fuel to accommodate concepts like BBQ, wood-fired pizza, etc.
How much does it cost to get started?
Costs will vary between Food Merchants, but in general you should budget for:
• Deposit of First, Last & Security
• Stall signage & related design / decor elements
• Food & beverage inventory
• Smallwares (anything you need to cook beyond the heavy equipment we supply)
• Insurance & permit costs
• Reserve Funds
What if I don't have startup funds, credit history or even a bank account?
Our partners at Up Start can help you establish / repair a credit history, establish both a business and personal bank account and apply for character-based loans at partnering financial institutions. Typically, banks will look at restaurants as risky investments; Up Start will work with you to design a business plan that mitigates a lot of those risks and defines a clear path towards profitability.
How much is rent?
During our opening year, monthly rent will range from $600-900 based upon stall size.
How long is my lease? Can I rent from month to month?
We will offer 1 and 2 year leases, renewable based upon how a Food Merchant is performing within / complying with the guidelines of the market. While we won’t have stalls for rent on a month to month basis, we will offer other opportunities for people to experiment with their concept, from weekly day-tabling to participating in large scale events to teaching cooking classes in our community kitchen. (More on those opportunities soon!)
What if I can’t fit everything into my stall?
That’s to be expected! We’ll have a walkin refrigerator and freezer in our basement as well as dry storage. Food Merchants can rent a (secure) section of each based upon their specific needs.
Who pays for utilities?
Each stall will be individually metered for gas, electric and water. You pay only for what your stall uses. Salt City Market pays for both cleaning of and utilities for the common spaces and WiFi.
What are the (projected) hours of the market?
While Salt City Market will maintain different (longer) hours for some of the anchor businesses (grocery store, cafe, bar, etc.) our Food Merchants should plan to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 am-9 pm. There may be some flexibility here for Food Merchants who wish to open early (for the breakfast crowd) or stay open later (for the bar crowd).
How do you choose who gets into the market?
Our Interview Committee will meet with and evaluate individual candidates after they have attended an information session and completed our initial 3-part food training.
Is there a waitlist to get into the market?
Yes! Just fill out our inquiry form and we will be in touch within 48 hours.
I already own my own restaurant. Is there space for me at the market?
Our first priority is supporting startup food businesses. That said, having more practiced hands onsite could be a win when it comes to reliability, stability and setting up mentorships. We will consider existing restaurants - what we internally refer to as ‘second step’ businesses with a single location and under 5 years operating - on a case by case basis.
If there’s no room in the market can you still help me?
Yes! Our partners at Up Start can work with you to get your business plan, financing, brand, permits, operating procedures and team in place - whether that’s at the market or another location in town.
Am I allowed to do catering / delivery?
Absolutely. We highly encourage you to take advantage of both of these powerful revenue streams. Our team can help you design menus and pricing structures that make it easy, convenient and intuitive for your catering and delivery clients. And we’ll help you get the word out with a devoted link on our website.
What are the rules of the market?
This is your business. We want you to have as much creative and operational freedom as possible. At the same time, this is also a learning environment and very much a shared space.
With that in mind, we have 6 core rules for all Food Merchants:
• Practice ServSave protocols around food safety
• Stay open during established market hours
• Participate in a monthly all-market strategy / inservice meeting (first Sunday)
• Compost within your stall + use market-approved packaging
• Comply with all legal statutes e.g., permits, sales tax, NYS wage order, etc.
• Update Quickbooks weekly (should take you around 30 minutes)*
*Salt City Market will provide a green garbage ‘slim jim’ garbage can for ALL of your food waste / food scraps. There will be a separate, devoted dumpster and we’ll pay for pickup by OCCRA.
**The last of these is something we’ll train you in + practice during the audition practice. Most people don’t love it at first, but you will come to rely on this tool to give you a solid, up to date understanding of the financial health of your business.
What kinds of support do you offer?
Through a partnership with Up Start, we offer a wide range of training and supports for beginning food businesses. Below is a list of our most popular services:
• Business plan development
• Marketing strategy development / implementation
• Costing and sourcing recipes / menus
• Selecting appropriate equipment
• Establishing food production schedules (prep sheets, pars, waste sheets, etc.)
• Financial tracking and identifying new business opportunities
• Hiring and training staff
• Permits, insurance and compliance with regulatory bodies
What if something breaks? Who pays?
We will show you how to clean and maintain all heavy equipment within your stall. Equipment will be new / under warranty, but we do ask that you observe best practices to extend the life of each piece. We will handle repairs on a case by case basis, but in general user error / inattention to preventive maintenance puts the cost on you, faulty equipment puts the cost on Salt City Market.Any items provided by Food Merchant are their sole responsibility.
Who pays for cleaning / maintenance?
Salt City Market will pay for day to day cleaning of the common space and regular cleaning of grease traps and hoods. We will also pay for trash / compost pickup.
How do I design a great looking logo, sign, etc. for my stall?
We’ll provide ‘design decks’ from 3 local designers. You can flip through them, decide whose work you identify with most and Salt City Market will pay for a 2-hour consult to help layout your stall’s overall ‘look.’ Food Merchants are responsible for fabrication and install costs.
Do I pay for marketing?
In our initial year, Salt City Market will underwrite an ambitious marketing and events campaign. We will grow our weekly events series / annual events through the life of the market and we expect that to drive considerable traffic. That said, looking at similar models across the US, the most successful stalls are those who’ve leveraged social media in a way that’s fun, informative and consistent. (We’ll run pre-opening trainings with marketing pros around this skill and continue those once the market opens, probably during our monthly inservice.)
Do I have total freedom on my menu, prices and packaging?
This is your business and ultimately it’s your call on menu / pricing. That said, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t provide formal, detailed counsel on what we’ve seen work - and not work - in similar food halls across the country.
Where do I get my food?
We will help you design a streamlined sourcing strategy that balances saving time with saving money, simplifies how tracking / paying your bills and builds in some redundancy (so you have an easy fallback when one of your vendors invariably forgets / runs out of an item). Ultimately, you choose what food vendors you want to work with.