The popular East End Food Market has found a sudsy seasonal home at a Riverhead brewery after construction delays stalled its move to a permanent location.
Twin Fork Beer Co. will host the weekly farmers market while a $3 million project dubbed the East End Food Hub wraps up on Main Road. The indoor market at 807 Raynor Ave. is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through March 30. By then, officials at the nonprofit East End Food Institute, which runs the market, anticipate moving into the building.
Higher than anticipated costs, including a $120,000 water main extension, held up the project, according to the nonprofit's executive director Kate Fullam. She said Tuesday the organization has raised $1.5 million in donations and grants, and fundraising efforts are ongoing. Organizers were eyeing a January opening for the indoor market.
The market was serving customers under a tent at the construction site until cold temperatures forced them to pivot.
“We didn’t want to cancel the market,” said market manager Kayla Barthelme, adding that the market provides an outlet for merchants who don't have their own storefronts. “A lot of vendors rely on this income.”
A Jan. 13 opening at the brewery drew about 300 people to the market, which featured live music and beer tastings. More than 30 vendors run the gamut from fresh produce to medicinal herbs, cheese purveyors, bakers, mushrooms, seafood, honey and crafts, all sourced locally.
Heading indoors was welcome news for Aki Goldberg of East Quogue, who sells farm fresh soups, salads and juices at the market.
“It was really hard on the vendors in the tent with the cold weather and the blowing,” Goldberg, 57, said.
But she’s eager to move into the new space. “It’s going to be a knockout.”
It’s also a reprieve for fellow vendor Jermaine Owens of North Fork Seafood.
“Being a fisherman, you acclimate to any type of weather,” he said, though he’s glad to be inside. “People stay longer, there’s more time to chat it up.”
Owens, 46, of Peconic, enjoys educating consumers about sustainable seafood. Monkfish and skate, he said, are both readily available throughout the winter.
“People want to know where their food is coming from, how it was caught,” he said.
Renovations to the 5,000-square-foot building began in June. The site at the corner of Main Road and County Route 105 had been occupied for 64 years by Homeside Florist until it closed in 2018.
It will include a year-round market and shared commercial kitchen, allowing the organization to move operations from the Stony Brook Southampton campus and expand programming to include cooking demonstrations and classes.
The institute’s food processing program helps farmers turn their bounty into products, from jarred tomato sauce to frozen soups.
“It not only reduces waste, but it adds value to the produce and extends the shelf life,” Fullam said.
Her mission is to create a stronger, more resilient food system and increase accessibility for schools, food banks and other institutions.
“Many people are not able to afford to eat what’s growing around them, so we’re creating those mechanisms to increase equitable access to local foods,” she said.