Shoppers in search of artisanal, handcrafted foods and kitchenware soon won’t need to travel to Brooklyn or Manhattan to stock up on local, edible bounty.
The Queens County Market, a monthly foodie bazaar slated to open this Saturday in Sunnyside, is the latest attempt to capitalize on the borough’s rich ethnic-food culture.
Organizer and aspiring restaurateur Katrina Schultz Richter said she hopes the market will help launch the businesses of a growing number of aspiring, local entrepreneurs by providing an inexpensive venue to test new dishes, receive customer feedback and build a following. The pop-up is expected to open with about two dozen vendors.
“With a lot of the [food] incubators opening up, there is a need for informal marketplaces to support those businesses,” Richter said. “It may take time to get to that point where a business has raised enough capital to open a brick-and-mortar space.”
She should know: Richter left her job last year as the operations manager of Hot Bread Kitchen, an East Harlem food incubator that trains low-income and immigrant women in the culinary arts, to start planning her own Filipino café.
But she quickly discovered there wasn’t a place in the borough where she grew up to market her products without having to make a significant investment.
“I wanted a marketplace to promote my future business,” said Richter, whose goal is to eventually turn the market into a weekly event. And she said she knows “there [are] other aspiring entrepreneurs looking to do this.”
Kathrine Gregory, who runs the Entrepreneur’s Space, a Long Island City–based incubator for about 85 fledging food businesses, stressed the importance of giving start-ups an affordable place to test new products on the market and get immediate customer feedback.
She also believes an endeavor like the Queens County Market will be a boon to the borough.
“It’s going to attract a food-lover’s clientele,” said Gregory, who envisions foodies from all over the city traveling to the market to pick up one-of-a-kind items. “This will give these creators a visibility to New York City as a whole.”
That’s what Pilar de Guzman, owner and pastry chef of Bonne Fête Baking, is hoping for.
She plans to participate in the Queens County Market to see if her high-end fruit-and-nut bars have broad appeal. Her dream is to one day open a shop in Manhattan carrying her treats.
“I heard Brooklyn has done very well,” she said, referring to the success of food-focused markets like Smorgasburg, in Williamsburg, and Dekalb Market, in downtown Brooklyn. “It’s good Queens is starting [one].”
“There is definitely a demand for it,” she said. “People love to attend these different markets.”