WILKES-BARRE — For Larry Newman, it’s about things like broccoli.
Executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, Newman can’t wait for the opening of the City Market and Cafe on Public Square, scheduled for May 1.
“It will be great if my wife calls and says she wants me to pick up some broccoli for dinner,” Newman said. “I’ll only have a few steps to purchase it.”
Amid an aggressive remodeling project of the former Arts Seen Gallery at 25 Public Square, City Market owner/operator Chris Cawley said the market will handle “just about everything” you would find in a supermarket.
Cawley said City Market and Cafe will have:
• Fresh vegetables and fruits
• Frozen section
• Dairy section
• Household products
• Extensive craft beer selection
• Coffee bar
• Deli counter
• Food service area with a 17-foot grill
• Bakery section
• All meats – chicken, beef, hamburg, etc.
• Dine-in section serving typical deli fare
• Dinners to go
• All lottery services
Cawley is originally from Scranton and has worked as an accountant but decided to purchase a franchise from Convenient Food Marts and locate in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Cawley entered into a 10-year lease for the space with Humford Equities about a year ago.
“I’ve been crossing that (Luzerne/Lackawanna county) line for years,” Cawley said. “And I have seen a lot of opportunity here, especially with the colleges and universities. I think the city has done a great job mixing the public and private sectors in the downtown.”
Cawley said the new 6,000 square-foot market will employ about 15 full- and part-time people and the place will be open from 6 a.m. to10 p.m. seven days. He said when there are special events downtown, the market will be open later.
Newman announced the imminent opening of the market at Friday’s monthly meeting of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association.
“We are very close to having our own new downtown grocery store,” Newman said.
Newman said the market is an important addition to the downtown landscape from both a practical and symbolic standpoint.
“From a practical standpoint, it means having a place where people can purchase a fuller range of grocery items than what is currently available from other downtown merchants,” Newman said. “And to have the ability to purchase those items year round offers yet another convenience for those who work or live downtown.”
From a symbolic perspective, Newman said the arrival of a downtown grocery meets a very important milestone.
“It furthers our efforts to envision downtown Wilkes-Barre as the region’s walk-to-everything neighborhood of choice,” Newman said. “And again, people who live in downtown — and there are many more of them today than there were just three years ago — now have an option for basic grocery shopping within a five-minute walk of their residences.”
Newman said while the new downtown market doesn’t necessarily take the place of a full-service supermarket, it eliminates “the need for a whole lot of trips out of the downtown” that might otherwise need to be taken.
About 30 of the downtown organization’s 76 members attended the meeting at the Wyoming Valley Art League. One member asked Newman if he could reveal the name of a new business about to open in the former Maer’s BBQ at 50 South Main St.
“I cannot,” Newman said. “But something is coming.”
John Maday, president of the downtown group, announced plans for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Parade on March 13 and the annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 19.