Downtown Barrie Needs a Public Market
Thursday, September 14, 2017
A permanent public market is in the works for downtown Barrie, giving locals and tourists another reason to explore downtown. Think farmers’ market meets upscale food hall. The development will host the Barrie Farmers’ Market as well as feature stalls from select artisans and restaurants. The focus is on fresh, local produce, quick-grab foods and unique merchandise. The seating is casual, the setting is minimal, encouraging you to explore new foods as you wander through the space. If this concept sounds familiar, it’s because, according to Slate Magazine, “the food hall is the child of two American classics: the aforementioned food court and the old public market, a staple of civic space of the early 20th-century city.”
1. It’s a Foodie’s Delight!
The public market is the culinary experimenter’s delight. The foods at the farmers’ market change with the seasons, so there’s always something new to try. Featuring numerous food stalls, you may be able to get that delicious fish chowder you filled your belly with last week, but don’t be surprised if the menu has changed. It’s fun and it’s adventurous. You won’t get bored and you’ll keep coming back to try new foods every time you visit. It’s affordable, fun and it’s social - mingle with other guests as you grab a stool to sample the tasty treats.
2. Support Local
Supporting local just feels good. The public market makes it easy to do. It gathers farmers, chefs and under one roof - a truly farm-to-table experience! Buying fresh from local growers provides us with benefits far beyond nutrition; it’s an opportunity to spend our dollars locally, get to know the farmers that work so hard to grow our food, remember where our food comes from, and reduce our environmental impact all the while checking items off the grocery list. Sampling the quick-grab foods from the food stalls further builds the food economy in the downtown.
3. Building Community
The public market is all about community. No reservations, no table service and certainly no silverware. But that’s part of the charm. Meet up with friends, grab a quick lunch with a colleague or gather with family. The vibe is casual, the layout encourages socializing. You’ll get to know the people that grow and prepare the foods you eat while enjoying the company of friends or meeting new ones.
It’s communal for both the vendors and visitors. Vendors share the costs while visitors share a communal table at which they chat about the food. There’s a sense of community, where one vendor sends customers down the hall, to neighboring stalls to share the love and the profits.
4. Supporting Entrepreneurs
The public market is appealing to entrepreneurial chefs too. It’s a test market for established chefs to trial new menu items and it’s an entry point for newbies. Start up costs are low. No restaurant overhead, just a food stall, some kitchen equipment and shared space costs. Forget the fancy imported marble countertops and plush velvet seating. The design is minimal on purpose. The focus is on the food.
5. Fostering the Creative Economy
From a business perspective, the public market, as the west anchor to Downtown Barrie, will service the local condo residents, corporate citizens, the newly opened Georgian College downtown campus students and faculty as well as visitors to the downtown, attracting new businesses to join the thriving downtown ecosystem.
The public market will be good business for Barrie; building Downtown Barrie’s culinary economy while fostering community and driving economic growth.
A Catalytic Project
The venue will be the west end anchor, ideally located in the existing bus terminal space at the base of Maple Street. It will be close to the waterfront and the new transient boat slips and is intended to attract foot traffic to the lesser known end of Downtown Barrie; extending the visitor experience along Dunlop Street from Mulcastor Street to Bradford Street.
“The food terminal is the next catalytic project in our Brand Action Plan. The Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) is excited to spearhead this development in the west end; we see it providing not only creative food and beverage experiences, but also future additional meeting space capacity and a novel event venue for entertainment and events. We expect the market to attract increased foot traffic to the west end, attract new visitors and offer a new attraction that continues to make Downtown Barrie a destination for residents and tourists alike”, commented Craig Stevens, Managing Director of the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA).