Ah, Belvedere Square, such a fickle mistress. It might be one of the only shopping destinations in the world where an edgy European florist can thrive but a Starbucks can’t. So many businesses have swung and missed: Simply Noted, Raw Sugar, Daedalus Books, Sweet Papaya, Taste, Bratt Decor all spring to mind. Remember when the Gap had its day?
Happily, it hasn’t been all been gloom and doom. Among the many closing signs have shone some success stories. (Have you noticed every photo shop in America has closed but Tech Lab?) In recent years, the most notable has been Belvedere Square market. if you need proof, head over there midday tomorrow and try to park.
So what gives? What is the formula that makes the market tick and how do you expand upon it? Well, it might look something like this: hot dogs + art + expanded outdoor space + renovation + moonlight + loads of wine² = no vacancies. At least that’s what Nelson Carey, owner of the always hopping Grand Cru, is hoping for with the changes he is spearheading at Belvedere Square. Carey was just granted approval to extend his liquor license to cover Plywood, his new art galley/party space, and the entire 6,400 square-foot market.
Are we supposed to sip wine while shopping for organic radishes at two in the afternoon? (Appealing, I’ll admit, but clearly not for everyone.) The plan is to make a play for a dinner crowd with extended hours (till 9:00 or 10:00). In an effort to gussy up the market for the innumerable date nights ahead, a rehab’s in the works. Makeover includes doubling the outdoor seating space and expanding Ikan, Atwater’s and Neopol Savory Smokery. I’m envisioning wine, wander, buy some pastries for the morning, sashimi, wine, wander, look at some cool art, butternut squash soup, wander, wine, wine. I like it.
Also coming to the the market in March: Mr. Carey’s Wurst, an eatery/shop devoted to primo hot dogs curated from New York to Chicago. This is just a great idea. I mean who the hell doesn’t love a good dog? Just check out the line at Haute Dog (no doubt an inspiration) on Falls Road and tell me this isn’t a home run (no pun).
So count me in, but what about everyone else? Success will depend on the ability to attract a diverse crowd. The intellectual Canterburians, the groovy Govansians, the yuppie Homelanders, the artsy Hampdenites, the retired Roland Parkers, and the moneyed Guilfordians all need to be in attendance. A recent peek into Grand Cru showed me that Nelson Carey is a master at this art: They were all there! Adding to my faith is his contribution to the wild success of Woodberry Kitchen (he was an original partner). With him at the helm, I feel confident. As a matter of fact I might head over for some much needed, umm, radishes, right now.