Urban Radish specialty market breaks ground in Arts District
A rendering of the completed Urban Radish market.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Construction has begun on the upscale Urban Radish market, as owners of the grocery transform a metal shed in the Arts District into a carefully curated market and deli counter.
One of the owners, Carolyn Paxton, said the process is more "re-purposing" than rebuilding, as much of the structure will remain intact. The shed's most recognizable feature -- a large mural of a black-and-white chipmunk that adorns an outside wall -- will remain and be surrounded by creeping figs that Paxton planted last week. Additional landscaping will include native plants that "cover, cool and insulate the building from the sun."
One of the most noticeable changes to the 8,200-square-foot space on Mateo Street will be the portion that is transformed into an outdoor seating area for customers to eat the prepared foods or deli items they purchase from inside.
As construction continues, Paxton and her partner Keri Aivazis are sourcing the food that they'll carry and meeting with management to develop a plan for the expected March 2013 opening date. Paxton's background is in branding and marketing and Aivazis was a business consultant, so in addition to a self-education of specialty foods they are hiring experts to help curate the selection.
"We’re not butchers, we’re not cheese-mongers... but we’re able to pull those kinds of people together,” said Paxton.
About half of the store will be set up like a typical grocery selling "farm fresh" staples such as fruits, veggies and dairy products. The other section will be a deli counter serving prepared foods, meats, breads, coffee and juices.
Paxton said they've started researching food options by meeting with vendors and visiting the farms the items come from. They went to the California Olive Ranch to see how the olives are harvested and pressed into olive oil; they have also met with family-owned salami company, Creminelli Fine Meats, and will be carrying select products from this Utah-based charcuterie producer.
Urban Radish is also in the process of getting their beer and wine license, so Paxton envisions the future of the market as a place where residents can hang out and nibble on some deli snacks while they sip their craft beer or organic wine.
Over the next few months the owners will begin hiring and Paxton says they will pay more to get the right people. She likens the type of employee they're looking for to those who work at Trader Joe's (in terms of friendliness and work ethic), but said their employees will have an even more in-depth knowledge of the products they're selling.
Paxton said they're also looking to work with Chrysalis -- the organization that helps place homeless people in jobs -- to hire people for the maintenance and cleaning positions.
Coming up in January, Paxton is expecting artist Peter Roa, the man behind the chipmunk mural, to return to the site and create at least one new piece of wall art for the market. Then, the market is expected to open by March 2013.
Urban Radish is located at 660 Mateo Street