By Mark Hiller, WBRE-TV
WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Business was bustling Wednesday afternoon for the grand opening of Center City Market & Cafe. While some customers were there to enjoy lunch, others dropped by to pick up some grocery essentials. Downtown worker Karen Bordo said, “You can run over on your lunch break and grab a loaf of bread or even dog biscuits if you need them. There’s everything here.” Diamond City Partnership Executive Director Larry Newman said, “It’s one more important choice that rounds out the retail offerings here in downtown Wilkes-Barre.”
Mr. Newman who heads the Wilkes-Barre downtown management organization said the new market helps remove a barrier to center city residential revitalization. “Knowing that there wasn’t a downtown market in a traditional grocery sense, that was something that made it hard for some people to commit to living downtown.”
Downtown Wilkes-Barre has seen a population boom in recent years. Developers have converted vacant space at banks and other buildings into upscale apartments helping add to the total number of people living downtown which stands at 3,500 and counting.
One of the signs of residential growth in the downtown is the Allegheny Lofts building on South Main Street. Although still under renovation, 12 of the 16 units are already filled. The renovated 16 unit Hampton Park building at Washington and Northampton Streets has full occupancy. Examples like these explain why the owner of the Diamond City’s newest downtown food market was all-in on taking a business risk. “Once you try to get that residential living, the people demand and need some of these retail components,” said Chris Cawley who not only owns but also operates City Market and Cafe.
Mr. Cawley signed a ten year lease for his downtown business. The store is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.