Eight years after its high-profile opening in Audubon Park, East End Market is getting a makeover that will see the food hall and shopping venue add a new locals-only retail store, cocktail lounge and chef's table concept.
The Neighbors, a joint initiative from Jacob Zepf of Freehand Goods
, East End Market owner John Rife, Domu's
Sonny Nguyen and restaurateurs Johnny and Jimmy Tung, will open this fall on the second-floor event space at East End Market after a gut and redesign.
Zepf originally had the idea of opening a store dedicated to selling goods made by local makers and artisans, but after an unsuccessful year-long search, he pitched the idea of transforming East End's underutilized upper level to Rife and The Neighbors was born.
East End Market
East End Market's upper-level event space will be renovated and redesigned
Rife added a cocktail lounge to the scheme, then worked with Domu's Nguyen and the Tung Brothers to bring an eight-seat chef's table experience to operate side-by-side with the retail component. Called Domu Lab
, the chef incubator will host a rotating lineup of young culinarians at the chef's table for approximately six months, though there could be a few different chefs doing chef's tastings simultaneously on different days of the week.
"We'll mentor these young chefs by developing their concepts, menus and culture, and support them with any resources they need to become successful," says Johnny Tung. "It's a low-risk opportunity for everyone before committing to a brick-and-mortar."
Should the concept(s) prove successful and viable, the Tungs would help these chefs open permanent restaurants just as they've done for numerous other chefs from Michael Collantes (Taglish
, Perla's Pizza
) to Bruno Fonseca (The Foreigner
We can't tell you the name of the first resident chef just yet (look for an announcement in a couple of weeks), but we can tell you the seven-course degustation menu offered will comprise global flavors with a Vietnamese bent along with wine, beer and cocktail pairings. Reservations will open in late August in preparation for a September opening.
Speaking of, the Neighbors' cocktail lounge and bar program will be run by Zepf's fiancée, and former Domu general manager, Brittany Dilorio. Patrons will be able to grab a drink and shop the retail area of the Neighbors which, says Zepf, will feature 30-40 local brands.
Decorative room dividers will separate the retail and chef's table portions, with bar seating being set up along the space's perimeter near the windows (see plans below).
In addition, the Neighbors will take on a brand new look and feel that will eventually permeate the whole market.
"It's going to take on more of a midcentury modern aesthetic rather than the current industrial rustic feel the market has," says Rife. "It will be more reflective of the Audubon Park neighborhood with murals and other cool design elements."
This all amounts to an exciting addition, which should draw even more people to the already popular food and retail hub.
Now if they could just figure out a way to transform East End Market's roof into a parking lot.
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