Streets Market & Cafe, an independent gourmet grocer specializing in organic and natural foods, has opened on Charles Street in downtown Baltimore in space vacated by Fresh & Greens.
The specialty store, the third for the chain and the first in Baltimore, had a soft opening Friday. The retailer will continue refining inventory and pricing until a grand opening, tentatively planned for Oct. 16, said Campbell Burns, vice president of development for the Washington-based chain.
Streets Market stores bill themselves as urban-oriented, carrying organic, natural, ethnic and conventional goods under one roof. The grocer emphasizes produce and freshly prepared dishes at a salad bar, a hot bar and a deli. The Baltimore store employs about 30 people.
"We wanted to get the store open as soon as possible," Burns said. "There's a need to have grocers in this area. We worked as fast as we could to get the doors open, and are excited to make improvements and are learning from what the customers want."
Employees still were stocking a few empty shelves on Monday as shoppers hunted for lunch.
Streets opened its first market in April 2014 in Washington and has another in Arlington, Va. A fourth store will open next month in Alexandria, Va. Additional stores are planned for next year, with others possibly coming to the Baltimore area.
The site at Saratoga and Charles streets housed a Super Fresh that opened in 2007 but closed after the chain's parent filed for bankruptcy. Fresh & Greens took the space, but closed at the end of 2013.
Streets was given a two-year, $100,000 grant from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and a $250,000 loan for furniture, fixtures and equipment from the Baltimore Development Corp.
"You've got a high daytime population due to office workers and a good nighttime population due to all the residents that live around there," Burns said.
Streets Market was founded by private entrepreneur Shin Myong Na of Burke, Va., CEO of S&H Inc., according to Washington business records.
During the grand opening next month, Streets plans an event with vendor demonstrations and sample giveaways, Burns said.