After five months of operation, North Avenue Market, the community-oriented food hall at 5900 W. North Ave., is preparing to make a number of strategic changes to better serve the mission of the market, as well as the surrounding community.
“We’ve done a great deal of reflecting based on what we’ve seen and learned since opening in September,” notes founder Chris Harris Morse. “As a result, we’ll be making some changes to our operations over the next few months which we hope will help us to both serve our mission and enact continuous improvement at the market.”
The adjustments, he says, will not only improve the experience for guests at the North Avenue Market, but also accommodate changes in some of the vendors and allow new vendors to join the market moving forward.
In recent weeks, a few of the Market's inaugural vendors – including Fresh Farm Bowls, Arty’s Sweet Talk Cupcakes and S’Blendid Boba Tea – have transitioned out of the market.
Meanwhile, Dawg City has opened up in a vendor stall on North Avenue Market’s ground floor. Owned by Tonya and Ken Hughes, Dawg City serves up a menu of East Coast inspired hot dogs, sausages, loaded fries and nachos. As time moves forward, they will be making a transition into the larger vendor space which formerly held Fresh Farm Bowls.
Meanwhile, the A Taste of Java coffee shop, A&B Desserts and Sam’s Deli are preparing to merge their operations, a move which aims to better service Market Hall customers by offering an all-day cafe-style menu that will include coffee and tea, breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, casual lunch and dinner items and desserts.
The goal for the new cafe concept, says Harris Morse, is to more effectively meet the demand for breakfast items during the hours between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., while also continuing to offer lunch and dinner offerings.
A Taste of Java will be closed temporarily to accommodate the renovations to the former coffee shop space which are needed to make the transition operate smoothly. The drive-thru will also be closed temporarily to accommodate the installation of a wind curtain that prevents cold gusts of air from making the use of the drive-thru untenable.
In the meantime, market guests can continue to enjoy offerings from Bittercube Bar, SAM’s Deli (which serves soup, salads, sandwiches and charcuterie) and Mosler’s Vault, the speakeasy on the garden level of the Market (reservations recommended). The market will also continue to serve as a pick-up location for goods from The Packed Picnic Co.
Harris Morse says that additional changes will also be made to the accommodations at the market. A portion of the seating on the Eastern side of the food hall will be transitioned from tables and chairs into more casual lounge seating such as what’s found near the indoor/outdoor fireplace on the western side of the market. The change will make it more comfortable for guests to get comfortable and socialize during their visits.
Harris Morse says that one of the largest draws for the Market has been events, from comedy nights to networking events. As a result, they’ve made the decision to reconnoiter the existing space to allow for expansion of those offerings.
“We want to be responsive to what our guests are telling us they want,” he says. “In addition to entertainment, we have nonprofits, including schools, that are looking for places to meet and to hold workshops. So we want to be able to serve the community by providing those types of spaces.”
As a result, the garden level of the Market Hall will be transformed into a larger event space, which can be rented for parties as well as used for entertainment and events.
While the rentable office space on the garden level will remain, the two vendor stalls will be removed and The Stable, the adjacent pop-up space will be expanded to better accommodate any number of uses, from a location for meetings to a site for hosting yoga and wellness classes.
“We’re excited about the reset that we’ll be putting in place,” says Harris Morse. “We have such a great opportunity here to create an environment that is diverse and healthy in every aspect.”
To accommodate both changes and construction, the North Avenue Market will adjust its hours beginning on Feb. 8. The new hours are likely to remain in effect for the remainder of the winter, with new hours to be announced in spring.
Beginning Feb. 8, the North Avenue Market will be open Wednesdays from 4 to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be expanded to accommodate special events.
For more information on vendor or rental opportunities at North Avenue Market, visit northavemkt.com.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.