Two Vendors Pull Out of Flagship City Foodhall, While Flagship City Public Market Vendors Stay Put
The Flagship City Foodhall was bustling at lunch time as usual. But two of the inaugural vendors have decided not to stay in the new location at North Park Row and State Street.
Blue Willow Bakery and Cafe folded up its operation a couple of weeks ago. The vendor's station inside the door of the foodhall is empty.
Lucky Louie's with a well established business near Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Summit Township is the second original Flagship City Foodhall vendor to decide they aren't staying. They wouldn't give an exact day, but managers say they plan to close sometime this week.
The Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC) behind the Foodhall development project isn't really surprised by the departures given the stresses on the food and service industry, from COVID-19 and staffing to supply chain and inflation. "It's something we expected," John Persinger, CEO of EDDS said. "We intended this place to be a dynamic spot. There's such minimal cost for vendors to come in because we own all the equipment and so we anticipated that people would come in and try some new concepts -- some might work some might not -- but we want to keep this space fresh and keep vendors rotating in and out," he added.
At the nearby Flagship City Public Market, talking that Gordon's Butcher & Market might not stay because of a slow start, is not true. Owner Kyle Bohrer said they just had to adjust hours and staffing, closing Sunday and Monday, to stay profitable.
And until a big new parking ramp is built, they're pushing curbside pickup and getting creative. "We're working with Erie Insurance and UPMC in trying to get grab 'n' go coolers for their facilities, so they can go on Gordon's market dot com, order their favorite Gordon's products let us know what time they leave and it'll be sitting in a cooler right at their place of business."
And they're also working with marinas to attract customers. "A lot of boats are getting in the water, so you know we're doing some incentives for some of the marinas to get their grilling goods for their fun on the boats," Bohrer said.
The Erie Food Co-op is making adjustments too in order to stay and make fresh food available to people living and working downtown. One example is carrying more regular fresh produce than organic in order to reduce costs.
Co-op CEO/GM Leanna Nieratko told Erie News Now that last week was their best week since opening. "But within that time we've had to make all kinds of little adjustments to staffing, to the products that we're carrying to the hours that we're open but we're really committed to just figuring it out," she said.
John Persinger said EDDC is in talks with a vendor to move into the Blue Willow space, but he wasn't ready to say who that will be.