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Massive Food Hall to Bring Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine to South Bronx

By Eddie Small | July 27, 2016 4:21pm | Updated on July 29, 2016 4:19pm
 Developer Keith Rubenstein is planning to open a new food hall in the South Bronx.
South Bronx Food Hall
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PORT MORRIS — A new food market that will feature a rooftop beer garden and a variety of takeout and sit-down restaurants is on its way to the South Bronx.

Developer Keith Rubenstein, who is in the midst of planning a massive residential and retail complex in Port Morris and has already helped open a new coffee shop and fashion boutique in the neighborhood, now intends to enlarge his footprint in the area with a food hall.

The venue, which will be called The Bruckner Market, will be located at 9 Bruckner Blvd. Rubenstein is currently studying what needs to be done to renovate the building and hopes to start work this fall and be ready to open in the fall of 2017.

"Maybe that’s optimistic," he said, "but I’m optimistic in general."

The market will be either two or three stories with several takeout venues and seating areas on the ground floor, a variety of sit-down restaurants on the second floor and a beer garden on the roof.

One of the sit-down eateries will likely be a Latin restaurant led by chef Douglas Rodriguez, the "godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine," and the market would contain a microbrewery as well, according to Rubenstein.

Rodriguez, who was born in New York but started his cooking career in Miami, should also have a takeout spot in the market and said he was thrilled to be part of the project.

"I’m very excited about it. There are a lot of exciting things happening in The Bronx," he said. "I guess it‘s like the final frontier."

Rubenstein said the idea for the Bruckner Market was inspired by several different venues, notably the San Francisco Ferry Terminal.

"What I love about it is that people can come in, and they can hang out, and they can sit down and eat, take things out," he said. "It’s a day/night venue. I just think it’s something that’s very interesting."

Rubenstein's actions in the South Bronx have proven controversial in the past, namely his installation of a billboard saying the "Piano District" was coming soon that many Bronxites saw as an attempt to rebrand and gentrify their neighborhood.

However, he stressed that he would look to keep prices at The Bruckner Market affordable for locals and use the venue as a chance to provide them with additional job opportunities.

"It is obviously a for-profit venture," he said, "but it is also hoping to be very affordable."

Rodriguez agreed, saying that he planned to base prices at his restaurant on what residents of the neighborhood would be able to afford.

"We’re building a restaurant for the people who live in that area," he said. "We’re not building a restaurant that no one will be able to come to."

Rubenstein also framed the market as a chance to bring better food options into the South Bronx, something he said community members have long been advocating for.

He described The Bruckner Market as a good venue both for people who already live in the South Bronx and for people from other neighborhoods who want to come visit.

"I think it will make sense for people that live in the neighborhood, people that live close to the neighborhood and people that want to come into the neighborhood," he said. "And I think that’s going to be one of the most unique characteristics of this building."

Joseph Diaz, manager of the nearby Mott Haven Bar and Grill, said he thought a food hall would be a great addition to the neighborhood and was not worried about it bringing in any extra competition.

"Instead of having people going into the city and leaving the borough, it’s a good idea to have it here and keep the money in the neighborhood," he said.