If you have visited the Public Market in downtown Milwaukee recently, you may have discovered a lively place. Tables filled with customers eating or drinking and others standing in line to purchase items. The Market was not always crowded; in fact at one point it was on the brink of closing. As WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson reports, the trend is a growing one across the country.
Walk into the Milwaukee Public Market any day and it’s bustling. Merchants behind their counters sell everything from burritos to baked potatoes. Arthur Ircink just purchased a bowl of soup. He says he’s been coming here nearly every day for the past few years and now notices he has plenty of company.
“It’s getting busier, there’s more business moving into the Third Ward. There’s a great selection here. I think they did a good job on constructing the layout of this place and bringing it back,” Ircink says.
…bringing it back from the edge of failure. The place was about a month shy of closing, with vendor after vendor leaving. Tim Collins says he was plenty nervous. He owns the St. Paul Fish Company, one of the original tenants when the Milwaukee Public Market opened in October of 2005. Public markets sell fresh, local food, but Collins says when Milwaukee’s opened, it was set up simply as a grocery store.
“They thought it would be fresh, local foods, but more of a retail market, less cooked, less ready foods but that’s not what the market demanded,” Collins says.
What patrons were demanding, according to Collins, was fresh, local food they could either take home or sit down and eat at the market. When new management took over in 2007, it gave vendors the green light to begin serving prepared foods and beverages. Collins says sales soared when he put in tables, a lunch counter and the company’s signature feature – an oyster bar.
Continue reading the article at wuwm.com
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