S.B. News-Press: New Public Market Shooting for Mid-April Opening

(from the Santa Barbara News-Press, March 30, 2014) By Steve Sinovic

The Santa Barbara Public Market, part of the Alma del Pueblo development behind the Arlington Theatre, likely will open sometime in mid-April, according to a company spokeswoman and future vendors.

“We’re shooting for mid-April, but it’s not a hard and fast date,” said Maureen Futtner, a marketing representative for Marge Cafarelli, the Market’s developer.

Outdoors, on a recent visit, the sounds of machinery could be heard everywhere as construction crews worked to get the place in shape.

The eagerly anticipated commercial development, which its website said will feature “the best in handcrafted, regionally-sourced, sustainably made food and wine in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara,” is located at the site of the former Vons supermarket at Victoria and Chapala streets.

According to the website, nearly all of the 15 businesses in the Santa Barbara Public Market are owned and operated by people who live in the Santa Barbara region. Most source their ingredients from local or regional providers.

They include purveyors of cheese, bread, coffee, wine, gourmet meats, oils and vinegars and desserts. A fishmonger, florist and green-grocer round out the mix.

Most of the merchants will sell prepared foods that can be enjoyed on-site or taken to go for lunch or dinner at home. Merchants also will offer fresh, artisanal products that customers can purchase to prepare their own meals.

To say vendors are eager to see opening day arrive would be an understatement.

“We’re ready to go!” said Amber Vander Vliet, the co-owner of Enjoy Cupcake

Ms. Vander Vliet is looking forward to setting up her second store. She operates a location in Los Olivos with her husband and partner, Kevin.

They opened a commercial kitchen two years ago in Buellton, anticipating expansion.

“We already have somewhat of a following,” said Ms. Vander Vliet of customers who drive out to the Santa Ynez Valley from Santa Barbara for a sweet treat. “They are not your typical cupcakes.”

The taste is “not driven from sugar” but from the flavor essences baked into the cupcakes, such as herbs, spices and fruits.

She said the customer base in Santa Barbara will include downtowners needing a quick pick me up on their coffee breaks, or those needing “giant boxes” of cupcakes to take back to the office or dinner parties.

“A huge tourist base in Santa Barbara” will be beneficial to the bottom line, she said.

The Santa Barbara Public Market also will be the second bricks-and-mortar location for il Fustino Oils and Vinegars.

“It’s an additional opportunity to build the business,” said Jim Kirkley, il Fustino’s owner. His first retail outlet is at 3401 State St.

“I believe the clientele for the specialty vendors will be a net positive” for all of us, said Mr. Kirkley, who has signed a five-year lease at the Public Market.

“I’m in extremely good company,” said Mr. Kirkley of the other vendors.

The customer mix will be equal parts locals, especially downtown-based business people having lunch and shopping after work, and tourists, he said.

“I think it will be a unique draw, especially for visiting foodies and the cruise ship crowd,” he said of the Public Market.

In terms of the competitive landscape, Mr. Kirkley said the vendors have their work cut out for them to build a following.

“Many of us will be vying for the upper-end shopper type — the kind of people who frequent Gelson’s and Lazy Acres,” Mr. Kirkley said.