A new food hall opened in Williamsburg on Thursday, bringing 11 diverse new food vendors to the neighborhood: From Korean street food to New York stalwarts like Di Fara Pizza, to exciting first-time entrants like Chicago’s Urbanbelly.
Williamsburg Market is the newest incarnation of the space at 103 North Third Street, which housed food hall North 3rd Street Market before it closed during the pandemic.
The 15,000-square-foot market features vendor stalls, booths and a large bar island. The decor is described by promoters as an intimate “French country farmhouse meets Brooklyn industrial” aesthetic, which translates to wooden barn-like beams combined with polished concrete floor and art-deco light fixtures.
At an advance preview last week, the food hall opened its flower-wreathed doors to a bevy of New York City influencers for cocktails and tastings.
There, staff of Harlem Seafood Soul staff served the restaurant’s famous cheddar cheese grits with garlic butter shrimp and cups of homemade lemonade.
“This is our first location without wheels, and we’re excited about it,” Harlem Seafood Soul Founder and Head Chef Tami Treadwell told BK Reader, in between serving customers.
Urbanbelly founder Bill Kim was at his restaurant’s stall in the back of the hall handing out bowls of his spicy Korean rice cake soup—one of the culinary highlights of the night. The dish features chewy fish cakes, sweet mango, fresh cilantro and heat that packs a punch.
The chef, who serves “Asian comfort food,” had flown from Chicago for the launch, and said Williamsburg Market was Urbanbelly’s first location on the East Coast.
“I’ve been doing this for 16 years and I wanted to come to the East Coast, and I thought this would be the perfect place to do it,” Kim told BK Reader.
“The foot traffic, the families, and having the next generation of your customer base coming through–from kids in the strollers to postgraduates, people who want to eat and also cook at home– I think it’s a perfect spot for people to eat and gather and be very informal.”
Also on display: Slices from Di Fara; Mexican food from Mexology; delicious, sopressa-stuffed sandwiches from Alidoro Italian Sandwich Shop; vegan comfort food from BKLYN Wild; Korean corn dogs from Oh-K Dog (think giant, panko-crumbed mozzarella sticks); and sourdough from the Hamptons via Newlight Breadworks.
Meanwhile, the party was an opportunity for Williamsburg Market to gain some early traction among the city’s social media class before its official opening, which was delayed a week by electrical issues.
Inside, the city’s Instagram elite rubbed shoulders, competing for space at the marble-topped bar.
One influencer carried a ring light for a more flattering complexion on camera. Another deftly balanced a burger in one hand, while snapping a close-up of it with the other.
Three influencers in heels strutted in step down the industrial runway between a sushi vendor and lined-up tasters of shrimp & grits.
Jeremy Cohen, who has 397K followers on Instagram, kept it low-key in sneakers and a cap, alongside girlfriend Kylea Rosen, as the pair lined up for a chicken sandwich and cookies-and-cream milkshake from Paper Plate, which was packed all night.
“Everyone is talking about this chicken sandwich,” he said. “It’s the one spot with a little bit of a line right now, and apparently it’s worth it, so we’re waiting for that.”
Cohen said he’d also tried a “delightful” spicy tuna hand roll from Temakase Handroll Bar, a sushi stall with bar seating that also saw a rotating cast of influencers lined up all night, as well as a “North 3rd Spritz” from the cocktail bar that he described as “absolutely scrumptious.”
“I think it will do well,” Cohen told BK Reader of the market. “It’s so well curated, all of these spots are iconic in some way.”
Moonrise Ventures is the hospitality group behind the venture, and also owns Writing on the Wall and the Orchard Room in Manhattan.
Cameron Schur, managing partner at Moonrise Ventures, told BK Reader he lives around the corner from the market and wanted to see the food hall revived.
“I think that this neighborhood is really exciting and dynamic, and interested in eating great food,” he said. In choosing the vendors, Schur said they wanted diners to have a really wide selection of cuisines.
The 11 restaurants came together by reaching out through friends, being approached, and occasionally cold-calling a chef and hoping for the best.
“One by one they came together, and now I think we’re in this incredibly fortunate position to look at this group and say, ‘Wow what a talented collection under one roof.’
“It turned out better than I could have hoped.”
When Crain’s Business covered the market opening in April, it reported the asking rent was $150 per square foot, or about $112,500 per month. Schur said Moonrise Ventures hadn’t made the rent public, and didn’t confirm the number. However, he said the lease was “very long term” and added that they had made “a tremendous investment” in the space.
What would make the market a success was having “truly excellent food concepts” that make the market worth visiting from around the neighborhood, the city and the world, he said.
The new food hall is open until 10:00pm on weeknights and Sundays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.