Q: What was the inspiration to create Delray Market like no other food hall before?
A/Craig Menin, CEO: We started conceptualizing this is 2016, taking our inspiration from the iconic markets we love around the world – Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia; Sarona Market in Tel Aviv; Dekalb Market Hall in Brooklyn, and Faneuil Hall in Boston.
This inspiration fueled our desire to create something special for the city of Delray Beach and Palm Beach County as a whole. With nearly 3 million annual visitors arriving in Delray Beach each year, we felt there was a void in the market for a one-stop destination where the community and visitors could gather and explore a variety of different cultural experiences, from art watching to people watching to shopping for their favorite gourmet specialties to cook at home. They can listen to a great band while enjoying an affordable meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Delray Beach has always been such a celebrated home for destination dining and Delray Beach Market will finally provide the opportunity for a casual and diverse food, art, and music culture to come alive in Delray and become recognized on the national map. [33 SE Third Ave., https://www.delraybeachmarket.com/]
Q: What made you choose Delray Beach?
A/Menin: “I loved Delray the moment I saw it because it was so unique. It’s so different from Boca Raton, it’s funkier than Palm Beach, and it’s not as crazy as South Beach. I was excited by what I saw happening here.
The market is in sync with peoples’ changing lifestyles. Here in Delray, there’s a natural pushback to going out to lunch every day. People have to spend a lot of money and wait over an hour for their food. We wanted to give people an alternative, where they can walk in and out in 10 minutes, spending about half of what they would in a restaurant.
Q: In the midst of Covid-19, construction was still underway. What obstacles did you face because of the pandemic?
A/Jordana Jarjura, president, Menin:
When COVID-19 hit, we took the time to re-evaluate some of the interior market opportunities, as we needed to assess spacing, circulation, and safety.
We made the decision to eliminate seven vendor stations to pave the way for added spacing between tenants and interior dining. We also increased our outdoor dining and seating areas, which we were able to do, given our expansive 15- to 17-foot sidewalks and outdoor patio areas.
Specialty COVID-19 design measures also include touchless bathrooms fixtures, collapsible nanowalls for open-air spaces at the mezzanine special event level. There are two garage doors on the ground floor, enhanced air filter AC system, ample outdoor seating, and plenty of socially distanced spaced indoor seating.
Q: How is this different from other developments Menin has done over the years?
A/Menin: We haven’t embarked on a concept like this before and thought we had a unique opportunity to provide an exciting, one-of-a-kind experience and also create an opportunity for community growth and gathering, all in the middle of a pandemic.
We looked at what was missing from the area. What would make this area come alive in ways it hasn’t before? How could we service our customers with high-quality offerings that are unique, but accessible? Additionally, with this concept, we wanted to create that sense of wonder, that desire to come back over and over to experience something new.
Q: The aesthetic design of the building is ‘Tropical Modern.’ How did that concept come to life?
A/Jose Gonzalez, principal, Gonzalez Architects: It was a response to our climate and the concept that buildings should be a mirror of their environment. The idea was to marry a lifestyle concept for hospitality that reflected our beautiful Delray Beach location, in essence a building tailored to its place with a unique identity of its own, created for fun and enjoyment.
Q: How did you decide which vendors to set up shop?
A/Jarjura: Over the past three years, we curated a variety of unique local mom-and-pop food vendors and local chefs, as well as exciting discovery brands from New York City and other metro markets.
Our goal was to offer visitors a memorable, affordable, and accessible melting pot of flavors from around the world, in addition to American classics and healthy food options. Currently, Delray Beach Market houses 28 individually curated vendors, plus another roster of rotating/pop-up specialty vendors offering both local and eclectic flavors.
Q: How does Delray Market plan to continue to support other local businesses and the community?
A/Jarjura: From an economic impact, we are proud to say that Delray Beach Market represents a $60 million plus investment for the city and local residents of Delray Beach to enjoy.
During a time when much of our economy was devastated due to COVID-19 closures, we were able to employ hundreds and hundreds of individuals for the construction and anticipated opening. We will also be creating more than 200 permanent jobs.
We provide an opportunity for mom-and-pops that would not otherwise be able to have their own destination restaurants or afford Atlantic Avenue market rent with a space to promote and introduce their culinary creativity. Some of our chefs and vendors come from food trucks or restaurants, whose businesses were devastated by the COVID-19 closures and capacity regulations. We are proud that Delray Beach Market gives them the opportunity for a second chance.
In addition to the economic impact, Delray Beach Market will serve not only as a new flagship for Downtown Delray, but also for Florida. We are thrilled to say that thanks to the Market, we are putting Florida’s food culture on the map for tourists and travelers and locals to experience. From authentic ethnic cuisine to healthy fast casual to American favorites – the Market offers something for everyone.
The only consistency we demanded from all our eclectic vendors is their food must be memorable. The goal is that every time you visit the Market, there would be something else for you to see or try.
Q: In addition to Delray Market, construction is underway for The Ray in Pineapple Grove. What’s next for Menin Development?
A/Jarjura: We want to focus on additional boutique hotels with a strong F&B [food and beverage] and wellness component similar to The Ray. We love emerging downtowns like Delray Beach that have innate character, along with a strong environmental element, in our case our beautiful beach and Intracoastal Waterway.