Member Spotlight: East End Market
Member Spotlight: East End Market
John Rife’s East End Market gives talented, aspiring restauranteurs, artisans and entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring their concept to a shared venue that offers lower overhead costs and a built-in audience of potential customers. Operating since November of 2013, the market and food hall is currently home to more than a dozen vendors ranging from the iconic cookies of Gideon’s Bakehouse to the handmade leather, apparel and other wares at Freehand Goods.
This Friday, April 29, from 5-9 p.m., East End is hosting its seasonal maker’s fair, the Evening Exchange, featuring 15 additional vendors, live music and of course food and drinks out in the garden.
East End is constantly in motion as vendors grow and move on to their own brick and mortar locations and new concepts take root. “We just opened The Neighbors, a retail store and craft cocktail lounge. As part of that we have an eight-seat chef’s table experience called Camille, which was just awarded best new restaurant by the Orlando Sentinel,” says Rife.
“It’s awesome to see them grow and take on a new space. The goal is to help people get to the next level and bring awareness to them,” says Rife, a central Florida native with a real estate development background and a passion for helping these entrepreneurs make Orlando a standout culinary destination.
Other big news includes Dochi Donuts opening a new store in the downstairs area, and will be open every day of the week, and Wafu, a Japanese fish shaped waffle sandwich concept offering sweet and savory options opening a storefront.
“In the back of market we have a four-station commissary style kitchen,” says Rife, where entrepreneurs can work, create and test out their concepts and ideas. “They get billed for only the hours they use it, instead of renting a food kitchen for all day every day.” As for Orlando’s burgeoning food hall scene, Rife says, “You’re seeing it pop up all over town. Plant Street Market, the Bumby Arcade coming soon, the Milkhouse. You’re seeing a lot of collaboration that I think we’ve fostered. A lot of these little concepts can’t survive by themselves squeezed between a nail salon and a drycleaner in a small strip mall. So, a lot of people are looking to collaborate and be strong together.”
“Nothing makes me happier than to find out about some new concept that’s coming that I didn’t have a part in,” says Rife, who genuinely wants to see all of the culinary entrepreneurs and restauranteurs succeed and continue to build up Orlando’s reputation as a foodie destination. “We want to be seen as a top-tier destination for food and restaurants. I’m keen on helping these entrepreneurs build and succeed. The wealth stays local and there’s real money to be made once they build their following and open second and third locations. It’s not just minimum wage jobs; they’re able to offer higher paying jobs where employees make careers out of it and stay for life,” says Rife.
As for where Orlando is getting this constant stream of talent, Rife says “What we are seeing is people that have been trained elsewhere, New York, San Francisco, Miami, and they’re coming back here having been the right-hand person to some of the nation’s to chefs.” He also notes that the Michelin Guide is going to start rating Orlando restaurants. “So there is a push for restauranteurs to be the first to achieve a Michelin star,” says Rife.
East End’s current vendors include The Neighbors, Winter Park Biscuit Company, Dochi, Domu, Farm & Haus, Freehand Goods, Gideon’s Bakehouse, Hinckley’s Fancy Meats, La Femme du Fromage, Lineage Coffee Roasting, Olde Hearth Bread Company, Porch Therapy, Skybird Juice Bar, La Boutique by LFdF, and Steven Miller Photography. To read more about the vendors at East End Market and see menus, visit their website.