The much-anticipated opening of the Phoenix Public Market’s new Urban Grocery & Wine Bar is nearing reality. Currently taking shape inside the historic red-brick warehouse facing Pierce Street, directly adjacent to the outdoor market, the new full-service Downtown grocery store will provide the neighborhood (and city) a more permanent, thoughtful destination for locally sourced, organic foods.
Cindy Gentry, Executive Director of Community Food Connections, the local organization behind both the Public Market and the Urban Grocery, speaks about their newest endeavor with great pride. “If you love our outdoor market, you will love this place,” she gushes. “We wanted to create a real place, with real food. A place tied to the local community.”
Gentry goes on to point out that the market will exist as more than just simply a permanent, physical anchor for the biweekly Public Market — it will complement it. “We are looking forward to offering a larger selection of certain foods like meats, cheeses and other perishables,” she says.
Intending to be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. initially, the new Urban Grocery will also become not only the first full-service grocery store to open Downtown in at least the past quarter-century, it will also be one of the only such grocers to offer food selections largely locally sourced.
The renovated interior itself is as cavernous as it is quaint, with careful consideration to original architectural features being not merely preserved, but enhanced. Such notable elements include an airy, bow-trussed, vaulted ceiling that highlights the structure’s sturdy wooden support beams overhead, as well as the building’s original masonry surrounding in full, unadorned exposure.
Besides a wider selection of local produce, baked goods and previously mentioned perishables like dairy products and meats, a major component of the indoor grocery will be the Market Café, a grab-and-go counter offering patrons prepared items like sandwiches, salads, soups and other sides. Once a planned side patio is completed this fall after subsequent construction plans materialize, said takeaway foods will be available for eating on site.
The Urban Grocery will sell a rotating selection of beer and wines, the latter of which will become a primary focus of the grocery, with a dedicated wine-tasting area offering samples of varied wines to try, as well as purchase by the glass.
In an effort to further stimulate bright ideas and innovation in the local food landscape, there will also be a commercial kitchen and meeting area located in a sectioned, private space toward the rear of the building. Besides facilitating certain small, food-related events, it will act as an incubator of sorts for fledgling local food organizations and respective entrepreneurs trying to develop new products and or get their related businesses off the ground.
Last but most definitely not least, probably one of the more high-profile components of the new indoor Urban Grocery will be the addition of Royal at the Market, a tiny, stylish coffee shop brought to us by some of the same principals behind the respected Royal Coffee Bar on Jackson Street. Expect the same self-roasted, hand-pressed coffee, along with a careful assortment of baked goods both homemade and locally selected. The tiny coffee bar will exist in a connected space within the grocery store, but will also have an individual side entrance for visiting patrons during the main store’s off-hours.
Optimistic about the new Urban Grocery’s progress, as all of the finishing touches (and required permits) fall into place, Gentry is hoping for an official opening sometime during the second or third week in October. Moving along at a slightly faster pace, Royal at the Market is shooting for a quiet, individual debut sometime sooner, possibly in the next week or two. Stay tuned for updates.