What’s new at Reading Terminal Market? Bialys, Georgian dishes and delicatessen
The reader terminal market never stagnates. It’s a constant whirlwind of activity, with new merchants preparing to open while existing ones renovate. Stalls grow and shrink. Closures, on the other hand, are relatively few.
“We call it Tetris,” said Annie Allman, the market’s general manager, with a chuckle.
At this point in the pandemic, more traders are on the way and expansions are planned.
Among the major moves: Kismet Bagels, the up-and-coming bagel bakery that just opened its first store in Fishtown, will open a bialy stand next to a new home for dessert specialist Sweet Nina’s and a new concept based of meat called Butcher’s Pantry from butcher Rob Passio of Giunta’s Prime and chef Beth Esposito. The three stalls, which do not yet have firm opening dates, will be side by side at the end of the Filbert Street market, replacing what were previously daytime stalls. (The stall program, which had given startups visibility, is being reconfigured, Allman said.)
Earlier this month saw the move of Really Reel Ginger, a ginger-based food and beverage company by Iliyaas and Hadia Muhammad, in a new space near Famous 4th Street Cookies. Really Reel Ginger has expanded to include a line of skincare products, ginger shots, new ginger snacks, a small selection of products, and kitchen tools like ginger graters. The Muhammads started at the market in 2017 with a daytime stand, selling products inspired by Hadia’s roots in Mali.
The newest addition to the market is Kensington Food Company, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room by Thomas Sheridan, whose product line includes truffles, condiments and pickled items. It occupies part of the former Tootsie’s salad bar.
Extensions of Olympia Gyroscopewhich will also receive a beer license and lounge area, and Glick’s Ribbed Hut to give her more space to display her range of home-cooked foods. Also, Down Home Diner is planning a renovation.
Here’s a look at the new merchants on the way.
Nina Bryan, a lifelong caterer (her side job while working as a corporate trainer for Colonial Penn Insurance), started selling banana pudding on the market in late 2017 from a day stall. She quickly built the business and took a permanent stand across the aisle. This summer, she will return to join Kismet and Butcher’s Pantry. The move also means it will expand its line to include banana pudding cakes and possibly quiches.
Jacob Cohen, a real estate agent, and his wife, Alexandra, an advertising salesperson, started cooking bagels at home at the start of the pandemic. When they posted about their hobby on a Facebook page in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, orders and donations poured in. A pop-up at Urban Village Brewing in Northern Liberties raised $1,200, which they donated to Project HOME. They became wholesale professionals, cooking first in a shared store in Liberty Kitchen, then in a larger facility at MaKen Studios North in Kensington. On April 8, they opened a store at 113 E. Girard Ave. in Fishtown while continuing to wholesale and sell at farmers’ markets.
But the bialy, says Jacob, is the next thing. The humble cousin of the bagel of Polish origin – with a deep dimple that can serve as a container for various fillings – is enjoying a bit of a resurgence. The Cohens will bake them on site, along with bagels. Traditionally, bialys are filled with onion, salt or poppy seed, but the Cohens are planning all kinds of flavors, some inspired by collaborations with local chefs and food companies.
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Rob Passio of Giunta’s and chef Beth Esposito of Pink Garlic are planning what he calls a South Philly-style deli shop to complement his butcher counter, selling “pretty much anything you need for dinner,” said Passio: marinated meats, a hot soup and stew, spices, blended butters and sides such as broccoli rabe and fried cauliflower.
“We call it ‘pantry’ because when you open your pantry, you take a little of this and a little of that to create your meal.”
Republic of Georgia foods and culture are on the minds of northeast Philadelphia-raised siblings Michael and Donna Kolodesh, who will set up Saami Somi next to Kensington in part of the space of the old Tootsie. In addition to pantry items (spices, sauces, pickles) and tableware, they will sell traditional dishes and cook hot khachapuri, the famous filled breads.
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