Instead, if I have time, I prefer to drive for 10-15 minutes to dine at one of the many fine ethnic restaurants that have sprung up on or near Lafayette Road on the northwest side of the city. Nothing beats the $5.95 lunch special at the Saigon Restaurant, which is located at 3103 Lafayette Road. The Saigon is not the only ethnic restaurant in the Lafayette Road strip. There are also restaurants featuring Mexican, Egyptian, Guatemalan, another Vietnamese, Pakistani, Indian, Liberian, and Salvadoran cuisine. In that Lafayette Square area you also have Ethiopian, Chinese, Japanese, Peruvian and Cuban restaurants.
Of course those restaurants, which generally offer authentic cuisine served by recent immigrants from their respective countries, could never afford the steep rent at the City Market or anywhere downtown for that matter. Apparently neither can Constantino's which is on its way to being evicted for unpaid rent. Constantino's, by providing fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable price, was the epitome of the type of vendor those at the City Market has been trying to attract. According to its website, the City Market Foundation declares:
I like history as well as anyone. But sometimes nostalgia for the past obscures reality. Like Moody Meats which earlier this year left the City Market, Constantino's sells products not well suited for those who come to the building. The fact is most patrons of the City Market are, and will be for the foreseeable future, downtown employees who primarily work 8-5, Monday through Friday. They never were going to go grocery shopping on their lunch hour and take their groceries back to their offices for the remaining four to five hours of work. The City and the Foundation that runs the City Market needs to stop romanticizing the past and be realistic about its future. When, instead of the free market, government tries to determine economic winners and losers, we taxpayers end up subsidizing failure. That's what has happened with the City Market.
Established in the 1800’s as a market that the community relied upon for their daily staples of fresh meats, cheese, produce, and breads, City Market will once again offer this shopping experience to its customers.
There are business formats that would undoubtedly work at the City Market. A health club probably would do very well with thousands of city employees right across the street. A day care might also succeed. Likewise, certain chain restaurants would probably flourish. But trying to turn it back into what it was in the past, an open market where people can purchase "fresh meats, cheese, produce and breads," is simply a recipe for continued failure.