Salt City Market Opens
The Salt City Market was created, in part, to celebrate Syracuse’s food culture. It opened its doors at the end of January and is home to everything from pies to bubble tea to soul food.
Family Times recently talked to Market Manager Adam Sudmann, about the Salt City Market’s roots, its vendors, and its plans for the future.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
1. Can you start by telling me about the inspiration behind the Salt City Market?
There are two different stories operating independently. In Syracuse, there was a group of community organizers that had this dream of a multinational food court. They were trying to build it, trying to get the traction, and they had been doing it for the better part of a decade. In the meantime, I didn’t know much about Syracuse. I actually got lost in Syracuse on a snowy day once, and realized for a really diverse community, that wasn’t necessarily reflected in a public space where everybody could gather. So, I started holding these multinational pop-up events, mostly working with the refuge communities, hiring folks, having tastings, getting 400-500 people to show up and meet their neighbors. It’s a small town, so I ended up meeting with community organizers pretty soon from the Allyn Family Foundation, and we’ve been having this conversation over the last five, six, seven years. At first, we tried a restaurant called With Love over on the North Side, which was an entrepreneur incubator. Every six months, there was a new cuisine. One of the problems we found was whether folks were new to the country, or didn’t have capital, it was really hard to leave that incubator space and make a success of things. They still needed support. So, this idea got even more traction. A couple years ago, they decided on a site and hired me onto the project. Spent a couple years, scouring the area, trying to connect with talented, driven people who wanted in on the food business.
2. What is the goal or mission of the space?
It’s a two-part mission. One is people building generational wealth doing what they love. The other goal is to create a platform to show off and celebrate Syracuse’s food culture, and to create a space where everyone feels not only welcome, but that they truly belong, they truly own the space. When you walk through the space in the opening week, it has been breathtaking how diverse it is. We just don’t have that many spaces in Syracuse where you have people from all walks who feel like they can enter that space. That’s a rare thing, and I think that it’s a healthy thing.
3. What type of cuisine do you offer?
We have 10 different stalls, as well as a café-bar, and eventually a grocery store. Right now, we’re pretty strong in soul food. We have a couple of soul food concepts. Several Southeast Asian concepts. A Jamaican restaurant. A Middle Eastern halal restaurant. We have a juice bar, a bubble tea and exquisite bakery shop, and a pie shop that sells both sweet and savory pies.
How were the vendors selected?
That was a prolonged process. It started with getting the word out. We knew that not everyone consumes the same media, so while we did traditional advertising, we also translated flyers into different languages. I spent the bulk of my time knocking on doors and talking to strangers on the South Side, West Side, North Side of town to get the word of this opportunity out there, which was a little tricky because we didn’t have a building yet. I think sometimes people were skeptical. And then there was a 10-step process that would bounce between theory and practice. You have these business classes, but that gets abstract pretty quickly. So, you would also balance that with, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a pop-up event where we support you a lot. Then we’ll do more theory. Then we’ll go to another event where we pull back a little.’ And sometimes that came with people stumbling, which is part of learning. Then we had a couple sets of interviews. We had two different cohorts, a spring and a fall, because we knew it would take time to get the word out. The folks that ended up getting a stall, for their final step, we all rented a big van, and went down to New York City (this was before COVID) and restaurant-hopped for two days straight. We went to something like 40 different restaurants so people could see what they were doing in terms of cuisine and collect ideas.
4. What do you see in the future for the Salt City Market?
We’re hoping for healthy vaccine distribution. It’s quite a popular place and we’ve been really conscious about how many people we let in here. Once we get healthier as a country and as a world, we would love to start having events in here. I had conversations just today about events for everything from World Refuge Day to an event about the history of chocolate with a chocolate tasting. We have a teaching kitchen, which is a great place to host cooking classes. In the spring, we’ll have al fresco dining on the north end of the building for folks to eat outdoors.
5. Is there anything else you would like Family Times readers to know about the Salt City Market?
Even though this market is our flagship project, we’re always looking for people that are interested in building businesses, particularly in food. We maintain another spot north of here, where people hold pop-ups, get training and learn how to build a business out of food. Also, we have a playground that we built here, and we’re going to have a lot of kid-centric activities when that becomes a safe thing – art and performers.
– Courtney Kless
If You Go
Salt City Market
Where: 484 South Salina Street, Syracuse.
When: Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Hours for individual vendors are listed on the Salt City Market’s website.
More information: saltcitymarket.com.
WonderWorks Syracuse Announces Winners of Youth Art Contest
WonderWorks Syracuse recently announced the winners of its inaugural youth art contest – this year’s theme was “Time to Think.” The winning artwork will be on display near the Canyon Climb for one year.
The winners are:
Abby – Mushroom Tranquility
Jack – Sitting in Space
McKenna – Dreaming of Delilah
Sarah – The Challenges we Face Together
Mya – What’s Next
Sophia – Behind the Door
Christine – Gear Ahead
Trinity – Floating with Mars
Clare – Frosty Evening
Isabella – Stream of Thought
“Our mission is to help families explore, learn, and have fun,” said Nicole Montgomery, general manager of WonderWorks Syracuse, in a press release. “Promoting the area’s youth artists is another way of connecting with local families. We look forward to continuing making these connections in the year ahead.”
Syracuse City Ballet Presents Peter and the Wolf
Looking for something to do this month? Through March 29, families can catch a (free) performance of the classic fairytale Peter and the Wolf. It is the Syracuse City Ballet’s first virtual offering of 2021.
For more information, visit syracusecityballet.com/peterandthewolf.
Girl Scout Cookies Available in Central New York
Girl Scout cookies are back! Troops in the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways (GSNYPENN) Council will be selling the sweet treat through March 28.
Cookies can be purchased online and at businesses and organizations throughout the area (visit gsnypenn.org/en/cookies/buy-cookies.html for the full list) – or check out the weekend drive-thru at the New York State Fairgrounds. Prefer to stay at home? The cookies are also available through Grubhub.