Saturday, May 12, 2012

Reading Terminal Market Roundup

These cheese cases aren't Halteman's
The Halteman Split

L. Halteman Family settled into its new footprint occasioned by the Reading Terminal Market's Avenue D renovation, but split itself into two distinct businesses: Riehl Deli & Cheeze Shop for (surprise) cheeses and cold cuts, and L. Halteman, continuing to sell beef, pork, poultry, bacon and other smoked meats, as well as local produce.

Although both parts are owned by the Riehl family (which took over from Lester Halteman a decade or so ago), they're attempting to separate the businesses which may formally part sometime down the road. In the meantime, if you buy some fresh meat but also want to purchase slice ham, you'll have to make two stops.

The deli part of the operation also changed its procedures. Previously, cold cuts were sliced to order. Now, they're pre-sliced and placed in trays. It looks pretty, and I understand the efficiencies the system brings to the business, but as a customer I liked seeing the cold cuts sliced to order to my desired thickness or thinness.

Nichols Room Dedication

Mayor Nutter will join in the official ribbon cutting of the Rick Nichols Room June 18 at 10 a.m. and the exhibition of the market's history and its role in the region's food system on the new multi-purpose area's back wall. New signate will be installed next week.

The ceremony kicks off a week of special events celebrating the market's $3.4 million Avenue D renovation program. For the remainder of the week special programs will be held in the Nichols Room and the adjacent La Cuchina at the Market kitchen, which can be turned into a single space by opening the sliding doors. Market merchants, local chefs, authors and leaders of the Philadelphia regional food system will be featured in the programs.

The market and La Cuchina at the Market apparently resolved their differences over the kitchen school's flooring. As designed, the floor was the original slighty sloping surface, installed when the market opened in 1892 to allow water drainage from ice. La Cuchina proprietor Anna Florio was concerned that the sloping floor could lead to falls and injuries. A new floor with new tiles was installed to provide a level surface, which requires a slight step up from center court. The Nichols Room retains its sloping floor.

More on Avenue D Project

The dedication of the Nichols room won't mark the end of the Avenue D renovations, since work will continue well into the summer on spaces the project created for new vendors: Valley Shepherd Creamery, the Head Nut, the Tubby Olive and Wursthaus Schmitz. A vendor has yet to be selected for a small (less than 250-square feet) space adjacent to Wursthaus Schmitz along Avenue D.

The market also has to find new vendors to fill the slots vacated by Delilah's and Coast Cave. Legalities still have to be resolved with the bankruptcy trustee for Delilah's before a new tenant can be signed there. Coastal Cave closed earlier this spring when its owner retired. RTM General Manager Paul Steinke said he's close to signing with a hybrid retail/take-away operator (product line unspecified) for the Coastal Cafe spot.

The market was unhappy with its floor tile selection of the new restrooms -- the white tiles simply showed too much soil no matter how frequently they were cleaned. Gray tiles were installed in the women's rest room this past week; the men's room gets the makeover Monday night.

Just outside the restrooms you may spy new icons installed this week into the wall: split silhouettes, one female, one male, on the appropriate side of the common entryway.

But There's Still Lobsters

Coastal Cave may be gone, but late last month the market's board approved changes in the leases of two fishmongers, Golden and John Yi, to include the sale of live lobsters. They'll be installing their own tanks rather than taking over Coastal Cave's old ones, which the market probably will scrap.

For Mother's Day sales, John Yi was selling live lobsters today, which can be maintained outside of water for four to five days when properly packed and refrigerated.

More Parking, New Discount Program

The parking garage on 11th street between Arch and Filbert will soon join the market's parking program, with a maximum of two hours for $4. (You'll pay considerably more if you overstay your welcome.) With the Parkway Garage on 12th Street still part of the program, the market expands considerably its discount parking capacity. Merchants, however, will have to have two separate validation machines, one for each garage. The second garage should begin to offer the discounts on or about July 1.

The market's gift certificate program is going to plastic from paper. Nearly 60 of the market's 72 current merchants signed up for the program, which eases the record-keeping for market's back office. As soon as the plastic cards are delivered the program will start.

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