I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a new project coming to Buffalo, Mercado Revolution, which is to be a marketplace and dining establishment featuring all things local and artisanal in Buffalo, as well as also featuring young and rising chefs who will be working to bring to Buffalo some of the new techniques and thought processes regarding food that have been thrilling the culinary world but have been oddly slow in coming here. The Mercado project is being funded by Kickstarter, and the funding window has just over two days left as of this writing, so if by chance you’re a local who hasn’t already heard of this project, please consider backing it!
In my earlier post I mentioned some questions I had about the project, questions which have now at least partially been answered. The Mercado folks have really done a masterful job at being able to make sure they have something new to get out, information-wise, nearly every day, mainly in terms of people and vendors who will be involved. There is a lot of exciting stuff slated for Mercado: a test kitchen for Lloyd’s Taco trucks (a food-truck business whose quality is so high that in just a handful of years it’s become an almost beloved feature in Buffalo and WNY food circles), a Lake Effect Ice Cream shop (this excites me, as their main location is in Lockport, which is just too far for normal trekking for us — it’s about 35 miles one way), and the Bavarian Nut Company (how nice to not have to wait until the County Fair to buy their products!). And many others.
The Mercado drivers have also been very much engaged in the social media scene, engaging people and answering questions almost immediately on Twitter or Facebook. Last Saturday afternoon I asked two questions and both were answered within minutes. (The first had to do with food allergies, as gluten is an issue at Casa Jaquandor — Mercado will be cognizant of food allergies and accommodating, although obviously they can’t make every single item comply — and the second was whether Mercado would be more geared to dining-in or carrying ingredients for home cooking. The focus will generally be on eating there, which makes sense.) There’s just so much about the way they’ve been going about this thing that feels right.
Another person asked why they are using Kickstarter, and it seems to me that doing it this way creates a sense of community ownership before the place ever chooses a location, breaks ground, or even opens. You can virtually guarantee that a person who has donated is going to visit, just to see what they were supporting; given that it’s a food place, they’re likely not coming alone; and then after that, the word-of-mouth will spread. It’s a unique approach that demonstrates that there’s hopefully a critical mass already in place in this region, waiting to support something like this. I’m no expert, but I imagine that would be a big factor in helping the Mercado founders to secure funding later on through more traditional means.
Anyway, I personally find this project deeply exciting. It’s interesting that it happens when my own family is on the cusp of moving into a home with a kitchen that is actually conducive to a lot more cooking than we’ve ever had before. I’m looking forward to being able to do more with food, and do it with higher-quality products and techniques that I haven’t been able to do for lack of decent space.
It’s time for Mercado. Please consider supporting!
UPDATE: Forgot this: local teevee station WGRZ did a feature on Mercado the other day; you can watch it here. Just ignore the fact that the anchor mispronounces “Mercado” at the beginning, and all the stock footage taken from the Taste of Buffalo festival, which I don’t entirely think is what Mercado is aiming for!