With new Pittsburgh Public Market, city has tradition back
Visiting the Pittsburgh Public Market the first day it opened took Augie Barrante back more than 60 years.
“I used to work in the old North Side Market when I was 10 years old,” said Barrante, 73, of Wexford. “I helped out with the produce stand.”
The opening weekend of the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Produce Terminal Building along Smallman Street was nothing short of an overwhelming success, with an estimated 6,500 visitors, organizers said.
“I thought there would be 100 people (Friday), and there were 100 people in the first hour,” said Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip. “I think everyone coming through is happy to have a market back.”
The market had a “soft opening” last weekend. Its official opening is set for Friday. More than 40 vendors are expected to participate each week, Rodgers said.
“It’s so contemporary,” said Lori Barrante, 54, Augie’s wife. “It has a little bit of everything.”
Pat Cosmano’s booth of olive oils and balsamics, Cosimano e Ferrari, particularly piqued the Barrantes’ interest.
Cosmano, of Rochester, N.Y., said he has worked out of a space at the Rochester Public Market for about eight months and expanded to Pittsburgh after a relative told him about the Strip District market.
“I’m really impressed with the setup,” Cosmano said. “You have a lot of good vendors in here.”
The Rochester Public Market has about 300 booths in an indoor-outdoor setting. It won the 2010 America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest.
Rodgers expected at least 10 more booths to go up for this weekend’s opening.
“For a lot of people here, this is their second business,” Rodgers said.
Nathan Holmes helps run Clarion River Organics, a business cooperative in its third year that was selling vegetables and dairy products. Holmes said the group will bring in homemade ice cream, milk, meat and some vegetables in the winter.
“It’s really nice to have a place with a cooler,” Holmes said. “It’s exciting and people are excited.”
Teresa and Don Orkoskey of Lawrenceville said the setting reminded them of the market they grew up with in Wheeling, W.Va.
“I like the farmers’ stands,” said Teresa Orkoskey, 29. “It’s protected from the elements, but it doesn’t have that corporate shopping mall feel.”
Pittsburgh Public Market
Where: Produce Terminal Building, Smallman Street, Strip District
What: Vendors selling items ranging from pierogies, espresso and Italian ice to textiles, olive oils and desserts
Open: Year-round, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays