Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading Terminal Market Nears Avenue D Finish Line

The new, improved Avenue D looking south
toward Filbert Street (Harry Ochs Way)
The Reading Terminal Market will celebrate its Avenue D improvement program with a ribbon cutting Monday and programs and panels for every foodie's taste through the following Saturday.

The $3.4 million program not only eliminated the zig-zag of the market's Avenue D corridor and replaced it with a straight-line vista (see photo at left), but created additional leaseable space for new merchants, and a new multi-purpose room which, when not used for general seating, can handle special programs and group meetings. The market's infrastructure was improved with the addition of a second freight elevator to the basement, where new dry, refrigerated and freezer storage was created.

The ceremonies kick off Monday, June 18, with Mayor Michael Nutter snipping the official opening ribbon at 10 a.m. That ceremony will also dedicate the multi-purpose room named after Rick Nichols, food columnist emeritus for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the market history exhibit which adorns the room's walls. Nichols helped prepare the exhibit with the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent.

Foodie programs will be held at 12 noon and 5 p.m. each day through Friday, with another noontime program on Saturday. On Wednesday at 5 p.m. a panel chaired by Michael Klein of the Inquirer and will feature local food bloggers: Claire Batten of, Kaitlin Lunny of, and yours truly. The full schedule of programs follows at the end of this blog entry.

Although next week marks the official dedication, none of the four new vendors announced so far will be open for business. The first to open is expected to be The Head Nut, in space formerly used as refrigerated storage under the market's mezzanine-level office. The purveyor of nuts, candy, general bulk dry goods, coffee and tea could be open as early as the end of June. Valley Shepherd Creamery and Wursthaus Schmitz are working on their zoning and building permits and their Health Department plan review process.  The Tubby Olive is finalizing its store design.

The Head Nut under construction
That still leaves unfilled one of the newly-created spaces (a small stall across Avenue D from La Cucina), in addition to finding a vendor to take over the larger Coastal Cave spot, vacated this spring when the owner retired. Another large, prime space to be filled was created earlier this year when Delilah Winder's eponymous soul food emporium entered bankruptcy.

The addition of The Head Nut has already trimmed a temporary surge in the market's seating capacity. When construction starts on Wursthaus Schmitz seating will shrink even more. Because of the earlier move of Flying Monkey and creation of the Rick Nichols Room, however, the market will have more seating than before the Avenue D project began. Still, it will be musical chairs for peak lunch hour seats.

Avenue D Dedication Week Programs

Monday, June 18:
12 noon -- Pennsylvania is for Chocolate Lovers, Michael Holahan of Pennsylvania  General Store; Philly Meets the Bayou with Bill Beck of Beck’s Cajun CafĂ©.
5 p.m., At Home with Steve Poses
Tuesday, June 19:
12 noon -- Cooking with Sal, Sal Vetri and Brad Spence of Amis Restaurant
5 p.m. -- How the Local Food Movement Got its Start, with Ann Karlen of Fair Food, Bob Pierson of Farm to City, Nicky Uy of The Food Trust, and Judy Wicks of the White Dog Foundation.
Wednesday, June 20:
12 noon -- Dipping into Philly’s Ice Cream Roots, Bassetts Ice Cream and the Berley Brothers of Franklin Fountain.
5 p.m. -- Food Bloggers panel.
Thursday, June 21:
12 noon -- What a Friend We Have in Cheeses, with Eran Wajswol, Valley Shepherd Creamery.
5 p.m. -- Making Serious Dough, with Wendy Born and James Barrett of Metropolitan Bakery
Friday, June 22:
12 noon -- Seafood Made Easy, with Ellen Yin and Terence Feury of Fork Restaurant.
5 p.m. -- Made in Germany, with Doug Hager and Jeremy Nolen of Wursthaus Schmitz
Saturday, June 23:
12 Noon -- From the Market Aisles to Your Plate with cookbook author Aliza Green La Cuchina at the Market's Anna Florio.

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