By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
Humford Equities confirmed Tuesday that City Market and Cafe, an upscale specialty urban food market and deli, will open at 21 Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
The 10-year lease was signed Tuesday, according to a press release from Rob Finlay, president of Humford Equities.
“We are very pleased by this long-term agreement with City Market, as it really advances our efforts to make downtown Wilkes-Barre a walkable, resident-friendly environment offering both convenience and destination shopping for families, college students, and the business community,” Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said in a statement.
The store is expected to open in late September or early October pending approval of required permits and licenses, according to Chris Gilchrist, president of Convenient Food Marts, owner of City Market and Cafe.
The Scranton-based company operates a chain of 30 Convenient Food Marts scattered across northeastern Pennsylvania, from Palmerton, Carbon County, in the south, to Lenoxville, Susquehanna County, in the north.
“Our City Market concept is very different,” Gilchrist said. “The downtown Wilkes-Barre store will be similar to our very successful store in Scranton, and will offer a variety of groceries, a fresh bakery, a dairy section, and a produce section with organic offerings…all done in an upscale manner. The deli will have seating for more than 50 and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a specialty coffee, cappuccino and espresso bar and gelatos and ice cream.” Plans include a canopy and outdoor seating facing Public Square. The 5,500 square-foot store will employ about 20 people and will cater to the downtown’s business, residential, and college communities.
Gilchrist said he has been working with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber and the Diamond City Partnership to make this happen and fill a need for a center-city grocery store that has existed for quite some time.
“We had a very thorough market study done and they tell us the demographics are there and the need is there to support a market and a deli. We believe in Wilkes-Barre and are willing to make a sizable investment to add to the city’s offerings,” he said. “We are very excited about the location.”
Gilchrist said the market will help to expand downtown’s “restaurant row,” since it will be flanked by El Zocalo Mexican restaurant and Circles on the Square deli, and Cafe Toscana.
“The addition of City Market and Café will provide a much-needed service to those living and working in the center city area,” Finlay said. “Five years ago, the downtown market would not have supported this use.”