By Jan Norris and Jane Smith
If its plans are approved, the Menin Development Co. will bring the food hall trend to Delray Beach’s downtown.
The retail developer announced a proposal for the Delray City Market at the former Metropolitan condo site east of the railroad tracks on Southeast Third Avenue, saying it will complement the new iPic theater under construction a block east.
“The existing Metropolitan did not make sense economically,” said Marc Yavinsky, executive vice president of Menin Development.
In December, a Menin division paid $4.6 million for the acre site behind the SunTrust Bank building.
“We always wanted to do a food hall,” Yavinsky said. “Delray Beach has a thriving food and beverage culture. Food halls are the latest trend in dining, where a family can go, every person picks what they want and everyone sits down together to eat.”
Menin has hired Dennis Max, noted South Florida restaurateur, to help design and choose vendors for the hall. His name is reflected on Max’s Harvest in Pineapple Grove and he partnered in Max’s Social, a craft bar and grill on Federal Highway that was replaced by Death and Glory.
The four-story site will be on a scale comparable to Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and, to an extent, Quincy Market in Boston, both of which were researched for the Delray project, Max said.
The 120,000-square-foot building is being designed by Miami architect Jose Gonzales, who also is designing Menin’s Ray Hotel, a project recently approved for Pineapple Grove. Max also is working with Menin on the restaurants going into the hotel.
Delray City Market is “a perfect location and scenario,” Max said. “We have a keystone location in east Delray. We’re fully visible from the avenue.”
The first floor will be the food hall, featuring 30-plus vendors with spaces in the 600-square-foot range, all food- and drink-related, Max said. Seating will be strategically placed throughout, inside and outdoors.
A mezzanine open to the hall below is designed as an event space, with full demonstration kitchens and a bar, ideal for receptions and cooking classes, he said. Live entertainment will be set up there.
Meant for both locals and tourists, the food choices will offer something for everyone. Max, who has owned numerous acclaimed full-service restaurants, says it’s the way people are choosing to dine today and fits a modern lifestyle.
A mix of made-to-order counter service businesses and fresh food retailers — such as a butcher, cheesemonger, chocolatier, baker and produce seller — will be the vendor profiles, he said. The focus will be on locally owned foods and businesses, with no chains involved.
“It’s an incubator for young, emerging chefs,” Max said.
He noted that some of the hot restaurateurs on both East and West coasts have backgrounds as food truck owners who have gone through food halls and eventually opened brick-and-mortar spaces of their own.
Full bars will be set up; an on-site craft brewery also is planned.
The 200 parking spaces on the top three floors will benefit the food hall and help out businesses nearby, Max said. An enclosed rooftop garden growing vegetables, greens and herbs for the restaurants below is proposed.
Menin will submit a site plan package to Delray Beach by the end of June, Yavinsky said.
If plans are approved, the plan is to break ground in the fall.
“This will be a fresh new place for Delray,” Yavinsky said. “It’s a hot trend. It will be curated to be a destination place.”