Small farmers market to start at Marais in Village

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 27, 2016

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Diners who enjoy the ingredients and baked goods they can find at Marais restaurant, at 17051 Kercheval Ave. in the Village, will soon be able to buy some of those items to make their own meals at home.

The restaurant will be putting up a 10-by-20-foot royal blue tent on its St. Clair Street side on weekends to create a small farmers market with produce and prepared foods from some of Marais’ vendors. 

The Grosse Pointe City Council — sitting as the Planning Commission — voted unanimously in favor of the special-use request during a July 18 City Council meeting. The Marais market will be seasonal, running from the spring through the fall.

“We think it’s very consistent in terms of what we are trying to achieve in the Village,” said City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates. “It adds a lot of vitality. … Their business has been very successful.”

Jackson said the merchandise display “is intended to have the character of a farmers market.” The tent will be located in the Kressbach Plaza area, about 5 feet from St. Clair. He said the tent and the rustic wooden display tables slated to be used for the market would be stored when not in use.

Restaurant proprietor David Gilbert said they plan to offer only food items.

“It’s just food-related. It’s an extension of Marais,” Gilbert said.

He said patrons would be able to purchase items such as rotisserie chickens, doughnuts and pastries from some of “the many wonderful purveyors” that the restaurant relies on. 

Jackson said City officials were “trying to be sensitive to the plaza” with regard to the location of the Marais market. Mayor Dale Scrace noted that “a lot of people” sit on the benches in the plaza area.

“We’re definitely looking to enhance that fountain area,” Gilbert said. “Anything we can do to enhance that area obviously enhances our business, but also helps the City.”

He said they might be able to replace benches with a plaque at the restaurant’s expense and create new seating. Scrace suggested that Gilbert come back next year about any possible changes with regard to the benches or plaza seating.

“I think it’s a great idea,” City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. said of the farmers market. “Anything that increases foot traffic is awesome.” 

City Councilman Christopher Boettcher was concerned this might set a precedent.

“It’s a great, creative use of space … but does it start a ball rolling” in which, for example, clothing retailers might want to put racks outside, he asked. “We’re planting the seed for potential applicants to come forward with other special uses” along St. Clair.

City Manager Peter Dame said that’s not really a worrisome issue, because stores such as Trader Joe’s and Kroger already have similar outdoor produce displays on the side or back of the business. Like Marais, these businesses are selling only food outdoors, not clothing or other goods.

“There is a precedent for having it on the sides and backs (of businesses) and not on Kercheval,” Dame said of these kiosks.

The council’s approval came with several conditions, including that the proposal must get approval from the public safety director and building inspector; Marais staff must be responsible for keeping the area clean and sanitary; and any events outside of the approved market hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays must receive advance approval from the City administration.

At press time, Gilbert said he was hoping to start his outdoor market on July 30. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from April 1 through Oct. 31.

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