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Local Food Market Takes Shape in Audubon Park

May 28th, 2013 | WMFE- Florida's reputation as a food hot spot is growing, with recent media reports highlighting the state's culinary diversity and a thriving farm-to-table movement. Fans of locally produced food in Orlando will soon have a new gathering place with the opening of East End Market in Audubon Park this summer.

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[Photo: East End Market owner John Rife on the building site]

A two storey former Baptist church on Corrine Drive is still a deconstructed shell of bare concrete and exposed beams, surrounded by earthmoving equipment - but in a few months it will house a dozen food businesses.

Jamie McFadden, owner of Cuisiniers catering, is one of the tenants.

“To Orlando it’s completely new, but not to the rest of the country," says McFadden. 

"I read an article the other night that the new food truck is the food hall, and that’s what’s John’s created, so it’s perfect timing.”

East End Market owner John Rife says the total cost of the project- transforming an abandoned 14 thousand square foot church into a 'food hub"- is about $3 million dollars.

But it’s more than just a real estate deal. Rife says he wants to create an affordable space for local food entrepreneurs, and he’s investing time and money into making sure they succeed.

“Would I do this for free? Absolutely," says Rife. 

"The harvest festivals that we do are break even events just for the love of local food and the supporting of the local economy. But my background’s in real estate, so I would never bite off something this big unless it was profitable.”

Retailers include a cheesemonger, a baker and a distillery; there’ll also be a licensed commercial kitchen aspiring cooks can rent by the hour, and a market garden.

My Yard Farm co-owner Henry Melendy is designing the garden. 

He hopes it will “create conversation about where food comes from, the sustainability of food, the local economy of food."

Melendy says the garden will be an "edible landscape" to support some of the vendors on the  property.

One of those vendors is Txokos - a Basque restaurant- which will use fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden in its kitchen.

The East End Market is due to open mid July.


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