retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times reports this morning that "the uncensored chef, author and peripatetic culinary traveler" Anthony Bourdain has unveiled plans to open a new food market on West 15th Street in Manhattan, on the main concourse and mezzanine of Pier 57, one of the largest shipping piers on the Hudson."

In about two years, the story says, Bourdain and his partners "plan to open Bourdain Market, a vast collection of about 100 retail and wholesale food vendors from New York, the nation and overseas, including fishmongers, butchers, bakers and other artisans, and eventually at least one full-service restaurant. April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, who own the Spotted Pig, the Breslin and other restaurants, have already agreed to operate two prepared-food stalls.

"But 'the beating heart and soul' of the project, Mr. Bourdain said, will be a Singapore-style hawker market, with communal eating spaces surrounded by small stands selling street foods from around the world - many of them mom-and-pop operations that Mr. Bourdain and his team plan to bring here."

Bourdain says that the project is "driven by his determination to bring people closer to the kind of kinetic experiences he shows on TV, and to share the food he is passionate about."

I've always admired Bourdain's willingness to try pretty much anything once, though he's certainly willing to go places I probably wouldn't, consuming things like raw seal eye, bull penis, and fetal duck egg. But I'm actually more intrigued by his approach to retailing, which seems to build not just on global street markets, but also on what formats like Eataly have made work in major American metropolitan areas.

Great retailing has a degree of theater to it, and it works because theater requires a narrative ... and retailing that tells a story always is going to be most effective.

I can't wait to see the new Bourdain Market. The odds are pretty good that it will be an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: