New York City’s restaurant world is not for the faint of heart. Businesses come and go, but businesses rarely go in such a dramatic fashion as the Williamsburg Market, a food hall that lasted for only four months before unceremoniously shutting down.
When vendors showed up to the market on the morning of March 28, they were surprised to find padlocks on the door and a note reading, “Please be advised that the premises are currently closed and Williamsburg Market is under court supervision of Anthony Sodono, III, Assignee for the Benefit of Creditors.”
Jeff Martin, the owner of the vendor Effin Egg, said that when his team showed up to work at 5 AM, they were unable to enter the premises and were eventually told that they needed to schedule a time to access their stuff. He says he is still waiting to see if they will get the security deposit back, as well as the sales from last week.
“The owners never said they were in financial trouble and were making all the vendors abide by all the market rules so we assumed that it was business as usual,” said Martin via email. “A few other vendors had some issues with ownership but we didn’t think this place would close after only several months of opening.”
Other vendors acknowledged those previous concerns about the ownership group, Moonrise Ventures. A source close to the situation, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that while they felt surprised about the drastic fashion in which the market closed, the project was ill-fated from the start. “What we did know was that the general operation of the larger space and how that’s been going since before the launch has not been great, to say the least…The writing was on the wall for quite some time,” said the source, who was quick to champion the quality of the vendors involved in the project.
Stephen Robinson, founder and CEO of Newlight Breadworks, backs up this account. “We speculated that there were challenges with management and generally within the market, and among us vendors, we have a pretty good line of communication among ourselves but didn’t have that same level of transparency from the management of the market,” he told Greenpointers. Though Robinson characterizes his experience with management as “largely cordial,” he also says that other vendors had been expressing their frustrations.
“It was clear to me that the market was underperforming to a degree that they were not doing enough to support the launch,” he continued.
Other vendors used more exacting language concerning the situation.
“We’ve been duped,” said Chef Tami of vendor Harlem Seafood Soul. “We were duped from the very beginning.” Chef Tami said she expressed her concerns about the project early on, after signing the licensing agreement in September. But her concerns were assuaged by her legal counsel, Fenwick and West, and she felt that she was reasonably protected in the agreement. However, she said that sales were dismal and said that when she brought forward ideas to improve the market’s promotion, they were immediately shot down by Cameron Schur, a partner with Moonrise Ventures.
“We all knew how to sell food, and he wouldn’t listen,” said Chef Tami. She also mentioned not getting a security deposit back.
The market first opened in November 2022, taking over the space that previously housed another food hall, North 3rd Street Market, an early business casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for the circumstances that led to the abruptness of the closure, no one can say for sure just yet. Evident, however, is that the Williamsburg Market team is in financial hot water. An attorney representing the ownership’s LLC, WB Market Operator, said this in an emailed statement to Greenpointers:
“We truly enjoyed serving the Williamsburg community and were deeply saddened to have to unexpectedly close the Williamsburg Market. Unfortunately, we are unable to comment further due to the ongoing court proceeding with respect to the insolvency of the operator of the Market, WB Market Operator LLC.”Andrew Pincus
An attorney for the creditors confirmed to Greenpointers that the process of liquidation of assets for the market has begun.
As for next steps, Robinson feels hopeful about the prospects for the other vendors. “At face value, the market has a lot of potential and with the right management operating the space, it could do very well. But that hasn’t been the case in reality, to date.”
BFD….as if this is the most life-altering event that pretentious food snobs and parentally subsidized playcationers will ever deal with in their shallow existences. Then again, it just might be, ranking second in precedence just behind their parents informing them that they’ll need to find jobs because they’re cutting off the monthly stipends they used to deposit in their bank accounts on the first of every month.
You seem fun!
Did my comment hit a raw nerve? I’m a lifelong ‘Pointer who calls’ em like I sees’ em. Food halls, and the like, are viable only at the whims of the targeted client base. When their tastes change, these establishments fold faster than a cheap suit. The numerous quirky restaurants and lounges in Greenpoint which have closed after a few years, to be replaced by the latest flavor, are proof of this. That, and more than a few of the operators of these food halls are shady in terms of business practices. Vendor are taking a big risk if they don’t do their due diligence and check the hall operators’ bona fides before signing a lease. What occurred at Williamsburg Market happens more often than is reported and it’s the vendors who lose.
what a deeply stupid post made by a really pathetic person. “lifelong ‘pointer who calls em like i sees em” or just a jaded loser?
Speaking of losers, I guess your parents are stopping your monthly playcation bank deposits. Old Navy is always looking for jeans refolders, no experience necessary. That description fits you like a glove.
The parents checks are slowing, this has a rippling effect, kids will have to find real jobs.
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