Last night at 4 p.m., the first Thursday Night Farmers Market opened to customers in the recently reopened Public Plaza at SE 79th Avenue and Stark Street. Representatives from Montavilla Farmers Market, Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (METBA), and vendors gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by the traditional bell ringing to open the market. Visitors quickly filled the square to shop the five booths and refreshments providers at this min farmers market.
Starting on July 7th, farm and food vendors will set up in the Plaza on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Moorish Roots, Kulfi, Sebastiano’s, and Threshold Brewing & Blending are some of the inaugural participants making a regular appearance. An assortment of vendors will return weekly this summer, with the final evening market held on September 29th.
This mid-week market is possible through a Vibrant Spaces Community Events Activation Fund grant from the City of Portland, in conjunction with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Public Street Plaza Program. The Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association (METBA) is hosting this public space in partnership with Montavilla Farmers Market, which will program the Plaza Thursdays, in addition to its regular market held on Sundays at 7700 SE Stark Street.
The Plaza will also feature live music and other entertainment events throughout the summer. Plaza organizers will post updated information on the METBA events calendar. Visitors can shop at the Montavilla Thursday Night Farmers Market throughout the summer or sit and relax on the shaded seating. All people, families, dogs, and outside food are welcome in the Plaza.
Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the METBA Board.
Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli is venturing outside the four walls of its storefront at 411 SE 81st Ave. Starting this Friday night,therestaurantwill open Aperitivo Sebastiano within a food cart located in the back parking lot behind the shop. This endeavor joins Sebastiano’s inaugural participation in the Montavilla Farmers Market last Sunday. Both new locations feature unique menu items and serve expanded tastes.
Many restaurants use food trucks to spread out to new locations, but co-owners of Sebastiano’s, Elise and Daniel Gold, are taking a different approach. Their food truck is parked behind the original restaurant, enhancing that location instead of transporting the business elsewhere. “Months ago, having no sense on where things would be at with covid, we came up with the idea of a food cart for summer. As a way to continue to grow but do it outside”, explained Daniel Gold. Traditionally, the deli serves the lunchtime crowd. By adding the food truck, customers can now enjoy a pre-dinner appetizer and drink on select nights. In Italy, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet the appetite. This cultural tradition is the concept driving Aperitivo Sebastiano’s menu. Customers can start their night at the cart and then move on to dinner at another Montavilla eatery.
According to Gold, the food truck’s kitchen opens up a host of culinary options for the nighttime menu. “We’re pretty excited to be able to offer more types of food, essentially because now we have a full kitchen. We have fryers, we have a grill, we have four burners, more refrigeration, and the space for a cook to work safely.” The Golds optimized the restaurant’s existing food-prep for a deli operation, making the most out of limited space. Baking and pan-based cooking dominate that workflow as most menu items rely on cured protein ingredients.
Daniel Gold believes that the Italian doughnuts will become a favorite item at the cart, and that is not something that they could have created without the complete kitchen out-back. The food truck’s fryer supports a focus on Sicilian street food, a cuisine that favors fried foods. Beyond sweets, the menu will offer Arancini (stuffed and fried risotto balls), Zeppole, and House-pulled fresh Mozzarella. As the summer progresses, the expanded kitchen will allow for experimentation in the menu. Vegetarian and Vegan options are prime areas that Gold wants to expand on.
Up to this point, Sebastiano’s has offered takeout only, except for reserved group events last summer. Now outdoor seating around the truck lets customers stop in and order food and drinks to enjoy onsite. They will serve wine by the glass, Spritz, Rosato (Italian rose wine), and some nonalcoholic cocktails. The tables will be open during Aperitivo Sebastiano’s hours of 3 PM through 6 PM on Friday and Saturday nights, with post Farmers Market service on Sundays from 2 PM to 5 PM. Customers can also order items to go and bring them over to Threshold Brewing and Montavilla Brew Works seating area.
The collaboration with other Montavilla businesses is core to Sebastiano’s operation. All beer sold there is from local breweries. Sourcing within the neighborhood for foods and beverages is essential to the Golds. That is what brought them to the Montavilla Farmers Market, first as buyers for their seasonal dishes and now as vendors.
Only one weekend in, the farmers market booth has already proven worthwhile for Daniel Gold. “We’re super excited and had an incredible first day at the Montavilla Farmers Market.” Just as with the food truck, some menu items are locations specific. Sebastiano’s staff bake Castelvetrano olive focaccia exclusivly for the farmers market. The market menu items feature favorite Sebastiano’s food like orange marmalade, sweet and savory brioche rolls, and a “tremendous amount” of Sicilian cookies. The Golds sold out within an hour and a half of opening at the market. They are going to double their efforts for next Sunday.
The farmers market project is pure fun for Golds. “It’s really a lovely end of our week to be outside and to be with our community and seeing a bunch of people that we now know,” said Daniel Gold. Sebastiano’s will keep a booth at the market at least through October. That coincides with the end of their food truck lease. At that point, they will reassess and see if customers enjoyed the expanded options.
The Golds started Sebastiano’s at the beginning of the pandemic. That challenge forced the couple to adjust their plans and create new ways of engaging customers. This summer, the Golds and their staff continue to push forward, with new ways to serve residents who are venturing out after an extended stay at home. Stop by behind the shop any post-work-week night for a pre-dinner visit, have lunch at the original shop on Thursday-Saturday, or wave hello at the farmers market. They would love to see you at any of their many places.
Images courtesy of Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli
UPDATED May 10th 2021 – adjusted hours listed in article to reflect a change and corrected spelling of menu item.
This Sunday, Montavilla Farmer’s Market opens for the first day of their new winter schedule. This expanded season marks the start of year-round availability for the Market. Previous winters only offered customers four stock-up events between November and February.
Beginning on November 8th, the Market will open the second and fourth Sunday of the month. This twice-monthly schedule will run November through April, with a special Holiday Market on December 20th. The Market will be closed for the holidays on December 27th. Market hours are 10:00 AM through 2:00 PM.
The winter market is located at its regular space in Montavilla town, 7700 SE Stark Street. Moving to a year-round schedule demonstrates the successes experienced by the Farmer’s Market and offers constancy to their patrons. Winter vendors include:
Many vendors have returned to the Montavilla Farmers Market today, May 3rd. The market has expanded into some of the area that had once been part of Beets Auto Body, to allow for greater distance between vendors. This is to facilitate walking past each other with at least six feet of clearance.
They have expanded the fencing around the area to control the flow of shoppers moving through the space and help everyone stay safe. A full listing of precautions and rules can be found on their site. If you feel like you can follow the procedures and be safe, please consider paying them a visit today. Please also note that they are resurving 10:00 AM to 10:30 AM for customers who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or have compromised immune systems.
The opening weekend of the 2020 Montavilla Farmers Market was a cold and windy one. Vendors could all be seen holding onto their canopies while trying to assist customers. The number of booths and customers were smaller usual, although it is early in the season for many crops.
The cold weather brough an unexpected March snow the day before and high winds made the day feel colder than it was. There was also, perhaps, a greater gap between people moving about as some practice “Social Distancing.” However, most people could be seen visibly excited for this Montavilla tradition to start up again.
The future of the Montavilla Farmers Market has been a concern for some residents, as the properties around it transform. Adam Stein represents the Susan J Witt Revocable Trust, who owns the property. The Trust also owns the property on either side of the farmers market, the property that once housed Beets Auto Body and the former veterinary clinic building. Stein, speaking by email, said that the farmers market will continue to have access to its space through the end of 2020.
“We have a year to year agreement w/ MFM, hosting them through 2020. A decision on 2021 is unlikely before the Fall.” Said Stein. When asked about expanding the Farmers Market to the now vacant space to the West, Stein said it was a possibility. However, he had not yet proposed it to the operators of Montavilla Farmers Market.
Adam Stein is no stranger to Old Town Montavilla. His company ARS Property Investments I, LLC owns 7805 SE Stark, the current home of Montavilla Brew Works. Stein and the owner of the trust are both local residents and express an interest in supporting our neighborhood.
Such a large lot on a prominent street, will likely attract a future development project. Fortunately we have community members making the decisions regarding the property. It should be exciting to see what develops there in the coming years.
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