August 17

SLU Saturday Market

Exploring the revamped market.

Geographically, the  South Lake Union (SLU) Saturday Market on Ninth Avenue is not far from last year’s Terry Avenue Saturday Market. But in many ways, the new market has come a long way from its previous incarnation. According to its managing director Ryan Reiter, these markets are as distinct as night and day.

Reiter is no stranger to the street market business. “Our family has been organizing local public markets for 25 years,” he explains. Their original Fremont Sunday Market expanded into markets in Ballard, Wallingford, and Madrona. Then, Reiter says, a few neighborhood stakeholders suggested South Lake Union. “With enough initial interest by vendors, we decided to lay down roots and begin the effort.”

The result was the Terry Avenue Saturday Market, which offered crafts and local bites, yet struggled to gain traction during the sweltering summer of 2015. “It was a tough year and very hot season, so it was slow going, but most vendors and our staff knew that this neighborhood had a great deal of potential in the years to come,” Reiter elaborates.

The desire to make the most of this potential led to the newly evolved SLU Saturday Market, which premiered this May and operates every Saturday from 10am to 3pm. Reiter feels comfortable with the change. “It’s more fitting to be known as the neighborhood, rather than a street,” he says. The new market is modeled after Smorgasburg, a New York City food market specializing in brunch that Reiter defines as, “a weekend hangout for locals and tourists.”

This new angle was inspired by Reiter’s observation that the SLU crowd tends to prefer ready-made snack items over ingredients for home-cooked meals. He describes the new market’s offerings as, “prepared food and food concepts, sprinkled with the farm essentials.” The goal is to support local micro-businesses, satisfy foodies with authentic world cuisine made from Northwest ingredients, and ultimately build community. Reiter hopes the new market, which ends for the year on September 24, will soon become a year-round destination for diverse culinary choices.

Diversity is the name of the game at the SLU Saturday Market. While some vendors offer unique crafts such as handmade jewelry (Karuna Girl), food is the main draw here. Visitors can stop by Nosh for traditional British fish and chips, sample Korean fare at John’s Kimchi, or experience Thai and French fusion desserts at SÜSU Rolled Ice Cream.

The vendors are grateful for the opportunity to tap into a vastly unexplored audience. “All the vendors believe that SLU will become a thriving market, so we show up every week to support the effort,” says Pamela Rose, founder of the micro wholesale bakery All About Cookies.

 

Many locals are still discovering the SLU Saturday Market. “We live right by the Needle, so it’s very convenient,” said one first-time visitor. Another patron brought her cousin to the market for a weekend outing. “I live down the street and I’d heard of it, so I just wanted to come over here and see about it.”

As curiosity has driven the market’s business thus far, Reiter plans to introduce several new attractions during the next month. Among these are local beer and cocktail tastings, jazz in the park events, and appearances by DJs. It all boils down to the goal of bringing neighbors and local businesses together, as Reiter explains. “It encourages everyone to grow this wonderful community event weekly.”

Five Market Must-Dos

Tandoozy: Try Indian street food on the go, choosing from delicacies such as chicken tikka masala, vegan red lentil dhal curry, and spiced mango chutney, all piled atop warm naan bread fresh from a tandoor oven.

The Puds: Taste homemade Yorkshire pudding topped with sweet or savory ingredients ranging from maple syrup to meat and gravy.

Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonades: Cool off with one of several fruity flavors of refreshing, handcrafted Hawaiian lemonade.

Plantsfrommars: Pick up a locally grown carnivorous plant housed in a handcrafted terrarium to deal with the bugs in your home.

Pa’s Garden: For a thoughtful gift or an eye-catching centerpiece, browse a wide selection of fresh, vibrant flower bouquets.

Story by Parker Danowski, Photos by Erika Kim

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