The Market House reopened to much fanfare on Friday. Nearly a dozen local vendors showed off their new furnishings and fresh food to eager patrons.
"Freshly shucked oysters, grab your crab cakes, come and get it," yelled a Yellowfin employee over the bustling crowd.
A raw bar from Yellowfin, featuring crab legs and shrimp sticking up out of ice, is the centerpiece for the newly renovated Market House.
It's been more than two years since the Market House was opened to short-term lease vendors in summer 2011. It closed in December 2011 for renovation work, and was expected to reopen in 2012.
However, the opening was delayed again and again as the city worked to secure the right vendors and work through the permitting process.
On Friday, the fruits of the continued delays came to bear with a soft opening. A grand opening is planned for Sept. 7.
Mayor Josh Cohen said it was exciting to finally have the site's doors open, and also a bit of a relief.
"Some days, I thought this day would never come," Cohen said. "The Market House has been such a political hot potato—a public works challenge, and a leasing challenge. To get to this day is a miracle."
The new Market House features a new host of vendors, reconfigured layout and new furnishings. Stalls were pushed closer to the middle, allowing for window seating.
Cohen said the turning point in the redevelopment of the Market House came a year and a half ago, when the City Council granted the city administration power to execute leases. Before that, each lease required a vote from the council, making each lease a political decision.
The goal of the Market House is to create "an authentic, local experience," Cohen said. Local vendors with strong reputations in the community have signed leases up to 2017.
Dwight Sullivan, a federal employee, spent his furlough day exploring the Market House.
"I picked up a turkey reuben from the Corn Beef and Deli, and I'm just very happy the Market House is open again," Sullivan said.
Some vendors were still setting up shop, but Friday's soft opening promised to have everyone open by the end of the day.
Cohen said the smoothie shop was missing a sneeze guard, and its neighbor Yellowfin literally reached across the aisle to provide the necessary equipment for the soft launch.
The full list of Market House tenants includes:
- Firenze Gelateria
- Hard Bean Cafe
- Carl's Corned Beef & Deli
- Annapolis Organic Market
- Yellowfin Seafood
- Midship Fresh Bar
- Amsterdam Falafelshop
- Good Life Smoothie Bar
To make up for that missed opportunity, Cohen has committed to "walking the plank," into Spa Creek on Sept. 7, culminating in the site's grand reopening at 10 a.m.