The people behind Mercado Revolution are friends of mine. They’ve done an amazing job collecting wonderful experiences throughout the world, and they want to bring some of what they’ve experienced here to western New York. But it hasn’t just been as facile as checking out markets and copying what they observe – they’ve done proper research and spoken with the people who run these facilities and operate the stalls. They have a particular vision, and if they pull it off it’ll be magnificent.
I have no doubt that they’ll pull it off, because Jeremy Horwitz, formerly of Buffalo Chow and currently of iLounge, is especially diligent and has a knack for knowing what will succeed, and making it so.
I haven’t been to Spain since before I was a teenager, but Mercado is not going to necessarily look like other markets with which you’re familiar – it won’t be like the Broadway Market or St Lawrence or Rochester. It will be…
Western New York’s first culinary bazaar. Built on the solid foundations of Spanish markets such as Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boqueria, and informed by successful American versions such as Washington, D.C.’s Union Market, Mercado will be a fantastic place to eat, drink, and participate in the global food revolution.
Imagine a marketplace that would offer some of the best quality food in WNY all under one roof, and on top of that it would have spots for pop-ups and opportunities for chefs and purveyors to collaborate and experiment. On top of all that, Mercado is bringing Scott Kollig, a talented young chef, home to WNY. Kollig is Chef de Partie at Jose Andres’ exclusive, modernist Washington, DC restaurant Minibar.
“Good food changes things. One new dish can define a city. One new restaurant can revitalize a neighborhood. One new drink can turn an obscure bar into a tourist destination for a century. One new destination – if it’s truly wonderful – can get residents excited, attact tourists, and change a city.
We’re going to create something truly wonderful for Western New York.”
One of the myriad inspirations for this idea is a restaurant that Horwitz and his family experienced in Asheville, NC called Curate. It was opened in the mountains of western North Carolina by veterans of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli and Jose Andres’ Washington flagship restaurants, and it’s gained national recognition. Asheville isn’t a big city or, necessarily, a cosmopolitan one, but it’s become something of a foodie paradise. Like Asheville, Buffalo has a wonderfully burgeoning food scene that’s light-years ahead of what existed a dozen years ago. Its metropolitan area has less than half the population of Erie County, and median household income is $32,000; in Buffalo, it’s $49,000. The conditions here are ripe for something like Mercado.
Mercado is happening, and it is running a Kickstarter right now to raise money for equipment and build-out. The $150k ask is ambitious, but this is a huge and exciting project. A Kickstarter doesn’t just raise money, it creates buzz, gets people excited, makes them feel like they’re part of a new revolution.
Above all, though, Mercado would be really fun. A curated group of the best of the best in WNY, all of whom would be encouraged to experiment and collaborate.
Check it out below, and follow along on Twitter.