By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
WILKES-BARRE — City Market and Cafe, an upscale food market and deli, will open on Public Square in mid-May, owner Chris Cawley said.
Cawley offered a tour Friday of the site at 21 Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, where construction is underway.
“We are finishing construction. After that, we are finalizing the tests on our equipment,” Cawley said. “We are going through our final inspections. We are finalizing all our employees.”
Clarks Summit-based Convenient Food Marts is the franchisor and Cawley, an accountant and executive director of Ashburn Advisors, is the owner of City Market and Cafe on Public Square.
City Market and Cafe has another location on Adams Avenue in Scranton and a third location will open at the end of June at the site of the former Connor’s Grillroom in Dallas.
The market on Public Square will offer craft beer, grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, wraps, groceries, fruit cups, produce and desserts, Cawley said. It will include a pizza station, deli, coffee station, bakery products, gourmet snacks and items from local vendors. Indoor and outdoor seating will be available.
“I’m trying to use as many local vendors as possible,” Cawley said.
Old Forge resident Mark Gee, an electronic and network engineer who formerly owned Jigsy’s Old Forge Pizza in Harrisburg, will be the food services manager.
The market will have 10 to 15 full-time and part-time employees, Cawley said. It will have extensive retail hours, opening seven days a week as early as 6 a.m. and closing sometime between 8 p.m. and midnight, depending on what is going on downtown, he said.
Cawley said the market will appeal to everybody from college students to business people to families, and downtown Wilkes-Barre is a great location for it.
“Wilkes-Barre is in a little bit of a rebirth right now,” he said. “Everybody has been looking for something like this.”
A grocery retailer has been in long-time demand in downtown Wilkes-Barre. A majority of respondents to the Diamond City Partnership’s online Downtown Wilkes-Barre Perception and Use Survey in 2014 said they would like to see a grocery store downtown.
A total of 825 people responded to the survey. Ninety-one percent of people who live downtown, 72 percent who work downtown and 71 percent of downtown college students said they would shop there regularly or occasionally.
Larry Newman, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, said the market is not only a retail amenity for downtown Wilkes-Barre residents, it also will be convenient for about 13,000 downtown workers who want to grab lunch or shop there instead of making a special trip to a supermarket.
“What Mr. Cawley sees is the opportunity from an increasingly mixed use live/work environment that has been emerging downtown in the last couple years,” Newman said.