Smorgasburg, a hugely popular Brooklyn-based food and flea market, is coming to Kingston in June. It will be opening a weekly open-air flea and food market on the banks of the Hudson River at the former Hutton brickyard. There’s considerable room for optimism in Smorgasburg’s foray.
Food was already a component at Brooklyn Flea before its offshoot launched along the East River in Williamsburg in May 2011. Expanding into Smorgasburg allowed for a greater variety of food options. In Brooklyn, it proved instantly successful. Nestled in the shadow of high-rise residential developments and the Edge and Northside piers, with spectacular views of Manhattan, Smorgasburg has been jammed with people since its second-ever Saturday.
Co-founders Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby have worked to keep the flow going. For fans of some food vendors, standing on long lines is an almost ritualistic part of the experience.
Kingston won’t be Smorgasburg’s first foray out of Brooklyn. Its Los Angeles location will be opening around two weeks after it hits the Hudson Valley.
When it’s not winter, the place in Williamsburg is open every Saturday. It’s just two stops on the East River Ferry from another warm-weather Saturday location in Long Island City, Queens. Last summer, Smorgasburg moved to Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sundays, and during the winter it operates on the weekends alongside Brooklyn Flea at Industry City.
There are also smaller-scale Smorgasburg locations in the city, including a daily market at South Street Seaport and an event-based location at Central Park SummerStage. Even an earlier weekend-long jaunt to Asbury Park as the Brooklyn Flea Food Court during the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival proved a success. Berg’n, a beer hall and artisanal food market in Crown Heights, is also owned by Butler and Demby.
Connecting to the Hudson Valley
While the co-founders of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg have plenty on their plate, they’ve been intrigued by the Kingston area for some time. “We’ve been thinking about expanding to the Hudson Valley seriously for a couple of years,” said Butler in an interview. “Both Eric and I have been going up there with some regularity for the past decade, so we feel very connected to it and are excited to become part of the ecosystem up there. The impetus for pulling the trigger now was being approached by the new owner of the [Hutton] brickyard and falling in love with the property and the location.”
The old brickyard is currently owned by MWest Holdings, LLC, a real-estate investment and property management company based in Sherman Oaks, California. In a press release, MWest president Karl Slovin said everyone involved was committed to honoring the integrity of the property while making it viable for the future.
“We are so excited and proud to be the stewards of such an important property and to have a chance to use it to celebrate the region’s agricultural roots and burgeoning food scene,” said Slovin. “Our goal is to carefully bring the Hutton Brickyards back to life with proven tastemakers who love the history and urban archeology of the site as much as we do. This is the first step in what we hope will be a long-term partnership with the community to make this site a rich cultural destination of choice for locals and tourists alike.”
Prior to the launch of the upstate Smorgasburg, the brickyard will undergo a cleanup, including the reconstruction of some of its historic structures. The public hasn’t had official access to the property for three decades.
“As an environmentalist and avid Hudson River kayaker, I’ve admired the beauty and faded grandeur of the Hutton brickyard site for years,” said Kingston mayor Steve Noble in a press release. “I’m thrilled that this historic site, an industrial engine for the city for much of the 20th century, will be preserved and reborn as a hub of economic and cultural activity for the 21st century. My administration is committed to fostering small business growth in Kingston, and I see Smorgasburg as an integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Both local and Brooklyn vendors
Being part of that ecosystem is something Smorgasburg is taking seriously, said Butler. It will focus on local vendors. Just in the past week, he said, interest in being involved has skyrocketed. “We only had about five vendors teed up before announcing it, just some folks we’ve known for a while or met through our initial planning process,” Butler said. “We’ve gotten over 30 applications in the first 24 hours since the market was announced, so that’s a good sign. We are shooting to have about 60 vendors in all when we open: 30 or so food vendors and 30 or so non-food vendors.”
The majority will be from the Hudson Valley region, but some Brooklyn folks will be sprinkled in, too. “As we’ve done in Brooklyn, we will be heavily curating the list for both quality and even distribution across categories,” Butler added.
Local businesses mentioned in the press release include Kingston-based Outdated; Raven & Boar, a family owned farm in East Chatham; Red Hook-based Sawkill Farm; and Factory Hill, a vintage and salvage shop in Philmont. Some of the popular vendors from the city-based Smorgasburg are likely to include Ramen Burger and Lumpia Shack.
While the Kingston location will use the Smorgasburg name, its mix of upstate food, handmade goods and antiques vendors also involves some of what made Brooklyn Flea so popular when it opened. All are likely to have appeal of to locals and visitors alike.
“We effectively are bringing the Brooklyn Flea since close to half the vendors will be selling things like handmade, vintage and antiques,” Butler said. “I’m describing it as a ‘food-forward’ market with plenty of stuff to wear or decorate your home. We’ve always had food at the Brooklyn Flea, so we figured why not have flea merchandise at Smorgasburg. We think the Smorgasburg name will travel better than Brooklyn Flea as well. It’s catchier and less geographically specific.”
Smorgasburg will open at the brickyard at 100 North Street in Kingston on Saturday, June 4, and will run every Saturday through the end of October. Operating hours are planned for 11 a.m. through 8 p.m.