Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Future of the Annapolis Market House According to You!

Everyone in the Annapolis area knows that the "re-vamping" of the Annapolis Market House was a terrible, horrible idea.

True Annapolitans loved the dilapidated old building, and familiar faces surrounded by grungy stalls. The Market House has sat in the same location since about 1716 and was actually a MARKET that sold fresh fruits and vegetables.

But new is in, and so the whole building was cleaned out and new merchants moved in around 2006.

The initial idea seemed to be a joint venture between Annapolis Seafood and Dean and DeLuca. To me this is a great idea. Annapolis Seafood offers seafood for reasonable prices, something Annapolis desperately needs, especially downtown. While D&D is overpriced, Annapolis also needs more gourmet food options. But, alas D&D is much smarter than the City Council, or whatever idiots were in charge of this process, and they didn't agree to the stupid ideas about how to organize the Market House, so they never signed a contract.

When the doors opened in July 2006, no one seemed excited for any of the merchants Annapolis was able to convince to open up shop. The closest to something unique was the Fractured Prune, an Ocean City, MD chain which offers fresh mini donuts. I like this place, but its also overpriced, and in July no one wants hot fresh donuts after breakfast and before dinner, which is when the market was open. Every other tenant in the Market just offered expensive fast food pizzas, subs, pretzels, and other junk that no one wants to spend money on.

As many locals predicted, the market closed pretty quickly, and is now an empty shell, when for centuries it was a viable business.

Now, Annapolis is going to try to listen to the Annapolitans and they are holding a session where the pubic can voice their opinions. According to What's Up Magazine the session will be held Saturday, May 30th from 10:30-2pm. "Anyone interested in attending the session needs to be at the City Hall Council Chambers, located at 160 Duke of Gloucester St., by 9:30 a.m. to register. The meeting will work though the lunch hour. For more information call the Department of Central Services at 410-263-7944. "

I highly recommend that anyone interested in food should attend. Voice your opinion, come up with an idea!

I personally think that Annapolis needs a real, true market again. The space isn't large, but its manageable, and organized, and would be a perfect place to have an indoor farmers market with local vendors.

The outdoor markets Annapolis holds are too small and have no variety.

We should choose vendors from a model based off the JFX and other markets held in Baltimore.

The Market House should look to European Markets for guidance. Fresh foods, meats, fish, dairy, bread and also prepared foods are not only delicious, but they are fun to look at and they force you to interact with the vendor so you get to know them and want to come back to see them.

Everyone doesn;t go to the farmers market, but some foodies travel 45min to Baltimore or DC to get fresh, local ingredients. Even if they don't already travel for food, residents from as far as Millersville and the Eastern Shore will be able to come to the market and spend their money here. It will be a great way to keep Maryland residents interested in Annapolis.

The Annapolitans will have a fun place to go get food, and it will be more convenient than a farmers market which is only held once a week. Plus, we will cut down on gas emissions from all the people who live downtown having to drive across town to go to the grocery store for basics.

Boaters can stop in a get sandwiches and picnic goods from a gourmet sub shop with gourmet chips and meats. A small liquor store with lots of cold beer and wine is the perfect option for a day out on the boat.

If we can make the Market unique enough, it will also be a tourist attraction on its own. We could have a colonial style prepared foods vendor and make it a stop on the tour of Historic Annapolis, what more could you ask for?

Local Restaurants should also be encouraged to purchase from these vendors. This will encourage vendors to carry a wide variety of items. Giving the local restaurants some sort of a cash or other incentive to buy from these vendors would help bring fresher ingredients into town, and give these vendors more capital. The circular exchange of goods and services will bring the community closer.

I don't see how anyone can loose with this idea.

I know Annapolis is a tourist town, and I know tourists like to see food they recognize, so often chains take over tourist towns, but I'm pretty sure everyone recognizes fresh fruit and vegetables. If we open more chains, and more Auntie Anne's pretzels and Sbarro's pizza stalls in the Market then no one will have any incentive to eat there because it will be the same food that is in the mall, for a higher price. Plus no one needs hot pizza and pretzels in the middle of July! Don't we want to be different in Annapolis?

If we want to continue to be a viable town we need to offer something for everyone. We already have chain restaurants all over the area. We need to encourage ethnic restauranteurs to open dining establishments in the area, and then bring the foodies back from Bethesda and DC. Allowing chains in the Market discourages unique dining options and makes eating in Annapolis a boring option.

Having a true local fresh food market is an exciting, community building option which promotes healthy sustainable living, and that is one of the major sources of pride in the Chesapeake Watershed area, so lets continue to promote it.


1 comment:

googlea said...

I think home made soft pretzels with lemonade are perfect for July - albeit maybe not Auntie Anne's - but a local vendor would be wonderful for the Market House.