A new 8,500 square foot food hall is in the works for Montebello, and the organizers want locals to be the primary vendors. BLVD MRKT is a public-private partnership between the City of Montebello, and a local organization called Gentefy. The food hall hopes to open by early 2019 if all goes according to plan.
According to Gentefy founder Barney Santos, BLVD MRKT will have ten vendors. Nine of these will be strictly more fast-casual restaurants, with limited menus and prices between $10 and $12 dollars. As of today, two unconfirmed tenants have signed on.
BLVD MRKT wants to be an open community space with a courtyard for people to meet and eat. “We modeled it after the huge open spaces in Europe and Mexico City,” says Santos. “In Barcelona, we saw a giant open courtyard with a playground for kids, and a wine bar right next to the playground. We wanted to figure out how we can create that same feeling.” The result is a design that incorporates repurposed shipping containers as three micro-kitchens and one larger, shared kitchen.
Behind the curtain are some community-minded initiatives. Santos found certain socioeconomic barriers to restaurant ownership for minorities. Four of the six food vendors will receive subsidized rent, along with business coaching to make their long-term vision marketable and profitable. Santos designed this program so that participating businesses have a chance to succeed when they open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
But there’s even more than a food hall coming. BLVD MRKT is city-owned land, with a total of 1.2 acres. The food hall will occupy the retail/restaurant space at the front of the property, and the Olson Company will build 28 three story townhomes just behind the food hall. Santos estimates the entire lot has been vacant for seven to ten years.
The City of Montebello is playing a heavy hand in moving BLVD MRKT forward with hopes of revitalizing the downtown area. The Gentefy team includes Santos’ wife Evelyn, as well as city government veteran Claudia Morales, and property management veteran Alfonso Trujillo. Gentefy combines the words gentrify and “gente,” which means “people” in Spanish.