Regional Tastes Meld at the Pittsburgh Public Market

By Philip Botti

The Pittsburgh Public Market’s vendors constitute a closeknit community of independent businesses from Western Pennsylvania. They bring their products to the Strip District, and hope the new friends they make there will seek them out at their home locales or online.

“We are like one big family,” Kellianne Frketic says at her Organic Bakery stand that sells artisanal food made with organic ingredients.

Scenes from the Public Market in the Terminal Buildings

Scenes from the Public Market in the Terminal Buildings

Kellianne, who is a Duquesne University graduate, has been with the Public Market for six months.  “I’m doing well,” she says.

“Businesses in the strip are small, and the market gives a good opportunity for us to get new clientele.”

Chatter fills the air while musicians play in a corner in the back of the building. Merchants bring family members, and chase down offspring who decide to explore the market a little more.  “It’s like our home away from home, our extended family,” says Sara Raszewski, a vendor for Soup Nancy’s, while pouring homemade soup into to-go containers. Soup Nancy’s has been in business here since April 2011. The excited crowd that hovers around the stand soon moves away with their soup bowls to make conversation at another stand.

Each vendor in the market brings something different, and customers enjoy the relaxed atmosphere while they browse the stands searching for something that catches their eyes or taste buds. With more than 30 different vendors every weekend there is a wide variety of products and cuisine for customers to enjoy.

The Neighbors in the Strip group started planning the Pittsburgh Public Market in 2003.  It wanted to create the first public market in Pittsburgh since 1965, when the last such market in the city was demolished to make way for development on the North Side. When the current public market opened, it enabled local merchants to bring their products to people in the city, which helps them compete with larger Pittsburgh-based businesses.  “I think it fits in well,” Sara Raszewski says. “It shows the spirit of small independent businesses, selling their products.”

Photo by Fred Blauth

Photo by Fred Blauth

The market is only open Friday through Sunday. There are tons of merchants who have year-round stands in the market, but there are also seasonal produce merchants who bring local food to consumers. Kellianne Frketic and her eeash Organic Bakery, for instance, offer organic baked goods.

But Raszewskis says it is also the sense of family that brings people back again and again.  “People come for the good atmosphere.”