Boston Public Market debates whether to go all-in on lunch

Seats are a hot commodity at the Boston Public Market.
Seats are a hot commodity at the Boston Public Market. –John Tlumacki / Boston Globe

Boston Public Market opened last July as an eclectic, local blend of farmers market and food court in the grocery desert that is the North End.

Now, nearly nine months after its opening, those two factions are bickering over which direction to push the market, The Boston Globe reports.

So far, business has been good for the 39 locally-run vendors at Boston Public Market. About a third of the vendors provide produce and grocery staples, a third serve prepared foods, and a third do both.

The market’s food court contingency, like Beantown Pastrami Co. owner Joe Langham, would like to increase the number of tables, chairs, and seating arrangements to better encourage the lunchtime crowd.

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“People who go in there want more seats,” he told the Globe. “I believe over time they’ll get them.”

Yet others, like Mark Jaquith, an employee at Stillman Quality Meats, said that the market’s identity as a grocer of locally-grown foods could be threatened if it focused more on prepared foods.

“There’s a big difference between grown locally and owned locally,” he said. “I was hoping for more of a farmers market atmosphere when I took the job.”

The market has added a few standing tables since it opened, according to Cheryl Cronin, who became CEO of Boston Public Market in January. More seating will arrive as the weather warms up over the next few months.

But don’t expect the public market to turn into another version of Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall.

“We’re very clear what we are and what we aren’t,” Cronin said. “And we’re not a food hall, a food court.”

Beantown Pastrami Company: One of the new Boston Public Market tenants, Beantown Pastrami is one of the few locations to offer a meat sandwich at the market. They use old world-style delicatessen methods, such as a three-hour steamed brisket, and all their ingredients are sourced from the New England area. 100 Hanover St., Boston.
Customers crowd in at the Boston Public Market. —Pat Greenhouse/ The Boston Globe
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