Commercial space attracting artisan-food vendors

Artisan-food venders are flocking to one commercial space in Orlando, Fla.

"Orlando doesn't suck." 

At least, so says a t-shirt occasionally worn in good humor by Central Florida native John Rife.

Rife, with a background in commercial real estate, is hoping to make that sentiment part of the city's past with his brand new East End Market, a public food offering located in the Audubon Park Garden District in the center of one of Orlando's emerging Main Street communities.

"We don't need to be a second-class city to the Austins and Seattles of the world," Rife told USA Today. "Orlando is a world-class city. And we're proving it by supporting a local business like this."

East End Market is a two-story, 14,000-square-foot building for locally sourced food. The space, centered around Orlando's urban farmers and artisan food businesses, is considered the largest public market in the Southeast, according to Chicago Magazine. The previous occupant was a church.

Rife has already brought farm-to-table events to Orlando, including the Winter Garden Harvest Festival and Winter Park Urban Farm.

"There's so much 'awesome' to be happy about and proud of in Orlando," Rife said. "But one thing that was missing was a place where we could showcase the local artisans who are harvesting their fields and bringing it to the table."

Twenty new businesses are opening at East End Market, including six that have migrated to the area from other spots in order to get in on the artisan food center. According to USA Today, the market has an urban loft-style feel, and each business has its own individual look and style.

The site also features event space, a caterer and demonstration and incubator kitchens. Txokos restaurant will prepare dishes via food brought and prepped at East End Market. Txokos is slated to open by the end of the year.

"Coming here is like going on a bad-ass picnic," Rife told Chicago Magazine. He also recommended Houndstooth Sauce Company for its Southern-style brisket and Lineage for cold-brew coffee.

Grow community bond
City officials and organizers anticipate that East End Market will fortify community sentiment among locals while giving tourists and guests some local flavor, according to USA Today.

"Our vision is to take all the great neighborhoods that surround Orlando's fabulous downtown – places people want to call home, where people want to walk or ride their bikes to amazing places like East End Market – and be a part of a community," Pauline Eaton, coordinator for the City of Orlando's Main Street program, told USA Today.

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