MIDTOWN EAST — Working stiffs in Midtown have a new place to lunch with the opening of UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, a food hall near Grand Central Station serving up fare from nearly two dozen vendors.
The market, which had a soft opening in its space at Vanderbilt Avenue and 45th Street on Sept. 14, offers lunch and dinner options, baked goods, coffee, beer, and more grub from 21 different businesses.
The president of UrbanSpace, which operates temporary markets in other Manhattan locations, said he hopes the food hall harkens back to marketplaces of old, with separate vendors meeting all customers' needs in one central place.
“The power of many is greater than just one,” said Eldon Scott, president of UrbanSpace. “We wanted to create a destination.”
UrbanSpace has been putting together pop-up markets in New York and London since 1972, and for two years operated the DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn before work on the long-planned City Point development began in 2012. But the Vanderbilt market is its first attempt at permanency in New York, said Scott, adding that he hopes it provides a toehold for small businesses previously kept out of the area by high overhead.
“It’s not easy to open a restaurant in Midtown,” he said. “This provides a really great platform for people open in a really dense area.”
Vendors include Red Hook Lobster Pound, Bushwick pizza mainstay Roberta’s, and Greenpoint bakery Ovenly, to name a few.
With vendors along the walls, much of the hall is laid out like a cross between a food court and and a high school cafeteria with long, family-style tables.
The market seems to be a welcome addition for the people crowding in at lunchtime on Monday, a week after it opened. Edward Leida, design director for Barney’s New York, who has worked in the neighborhood for several years, said he was happy to have food options somewhere between a formal sit-down lunch and the on-the-go fare so many office workers find themselves settling for day after day.
“The cultural explosion has finally arrived in Midtown,” he said, as he chowed on a lobster roll at Red Hook Lobster Pound. “There’s a warmth here, it feels good to be here.”
The bounty might be more than enough to satisfy the hunger of the nearby office crowd, according to one vendor.
“Some people are a little afraid that they have access to too much food now,” said Alex Souders, who started slinging pastries at the market for Ovenly last week. “The average BMI around here might shoot up.”