Local craft beer filled by the growler. Hot and cold salad bars. Sandwiches so innovative that the ingredients cannot be released now. A barista station doling out java from Portland, Ore.-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
No, it’s not a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s in the affluent suburbs or a hip urban neighborhood.
It’s The Market, a new grocery on East Fremont Street that is projected to open in late September across from El Cortez and a short stroll from Container Park.
About 10,000 items will line the shelves of the 6,000-square-foot urban grocery, which is part of Tony Hsieh’s dream of bringing a food market to an area lacking retail food market choices.
Hsieh’s Downtown Project, the $350 million land development, tech, small-business and arts/education initiative, is rehabbing the former Fremont Market & Deli at 611 E. Fremont St. It closed more than a year ago after 15 years.
At the time, in March 2013, former Fremont Market co-owner Steve Yono told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “We are a casualty of redevelopment … We couldn’t reach a deal on a new lease with our landlord.”
In this case, Hsieh does not own the building. He’s a tenant who spent thousands of dollars to gut the building to make way for grab-and-go meals, frozen foods, fresh produce, pastries, meats, seafood, poultry and seating for 30, including sidewalk dining. A glass facade will face the sidewalk and El Cortez; the interior will feature exposed beams and duct work with skylights providing natural light.
Without the residential density in downtown to financially justify a conventional supermarket, Downtown Project is pursuing an urban grocery that includes features of markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.
The business strategy is not to imitate any previous grocery market but make the retail food business a destination and unofficial center for local businesses, tourists, downtown law offices and Las Vegas residents, said Doug McPhail, Downtown Project retail director.
“We are inspired by a lot of things and mimicking nothing,” McPhail said during a tour Monday. “We get to be extremely flexible. One day we will have special salmon and the next eggplant. It’s endless what we can create … Innovation sparks loyalty over time.”
McPhail said when he joined Downtown Project in April 2013, one of his first conversations with Hsieh was about rebuilding the structure into an urban market. The store is expected to employ 30 to 40 workers.
Ellyn Chantos, The Market’s general manager, said the new grocery will not cannibalize business from The Beat coffeehouse or other neighboring eateries.
“The more the merrier,” said Chantos, who worked at all four Whole Foods sites in the Las Vegas Valley and Whole Foods locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island during the past eight years. “There are choices, and we’ll all bring people in.”
McPhail piped in, “That’s economics 101.”
McPhail said the closest grocery is White Cross Market at 1700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, which he said is 1.5 miles away, and a Smith’s, 2.3 miles away.
On Monday, work crews were installing duct work and metal support beams. The reconstruction is expected to finish in mid-September; the opening later is expected to follow later that month. On the exterior facing East Fremont, there is a blank whiteboard covering the building front.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at email@example.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.