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Upscale market slated for muraled metal shed in Downtown Arts District

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012, at 10:19AM
Carolyn Paxton

The Arts District shed where the market will go.

An upscale market selling grocery items as well as prepared salads and charcuterie is slated to open on Mateo Street in the Arts District at the beginning of next year.

The owners of Urban Radish announced today that they signed a lease and will be taking over a 8,200-square-foot space inside a re-purposed metal shed in Downtown. The space, located in a parking lot and across from the The Biscuit Company and the Toy Factory lofts, is easily recognizable by the large black and white chipmunk mural that adorns the side of the building.

The store is owned by Keri Aivazis and Carolyn Paxton, self-described "strong advocates of the farm-to-fork movement." Urban Radish will be set up as an open, industrial space, said Paxton, with a large space cut out in the middle for outdoor seating and eating.

Almost half of the interior will be reserved for the grocery store, selling "highly perishable," locally sourced staples such as produce and dairy products. There will also be a deli counter with a small menu consisting of made-to-order salads, meats, breads, coffee and freshly squeezed juices.

"It's a grocery store for people who live here, in basically a food desert," said Paxton, referring to the restaurants and cafes that surround the area but the absence of grocery stores.

She added that they want the market to be a destination for residents outside the Arts District as well -- a place to come, purchase some bread and cheese after work and eventually when the store gets the appropriate licenses, sit and sip a glass of wine.

Paxton acknowledged that with high quality, farmer's market goods comes a higher cost -- but Urban Radish said they will not compromise health or nutrition, and hope that as more people shop at market's like theirs, overall prices will decrease.

"We feel that this is what people want, and at least in this area, people don't want to have to shop for a week," Paxton said.

She said that many people like to shop every couple of days, buying only what they need to make their next few meals -- a style she likens to the European way of cooking and eating.

The announcement of Urban Radish's opening comes shortly after a survey was released from the local Business Improvement District (BID), which concluded that Arts District residents wanted more retail and food stores. Although many said Trader Joe's would be their first choice, those surveyed really wanted a market where they could also buy healthy, prepared food to-go.

The Arts District location will be the first market of its kind for Aivazis and Paxton, but they say once the concept is perfected they hope to open in other urban areas with "similar demographics." They have the space in their Arts District location for a commercial kitchen as well, and plan to eventually produce foods there to sell in the market.

Paxton is an Arts District resident and has a background in branding and marketing. Aivazis was previously a business consultant who has an extensive knowledge of craft beer and according to her partner, is a skilled cook specializing in Mediterranean style food.

Urban Radish will be located at 660 Mateo street in the parking lot behind Church and State.


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