What was essentially a dump for decommissioned cargo containers and an eyesore in the middle of downtown Brooklyn, has been transformed into an inspirational and unique outdoor market, culinary court and entertainment space off Flatbush Avenue.
After getting off the B train, I walked up the staircase and was inadvertently in Dekalb Market - the proximity to the train makes for easy access to the organic produce, original clothing and delicious prepared foods the market has to offer. In the center of the market is the communal dining area, and around the perimeter are the boutiques, galleries and shops - all housed in shipping containers.
On one side, the organic community garden provides fresh seasonal produce, herbs and edible flowers, and the empty area on the other side will be the future home of more container shops. Starting this week, about thirty more containers will be shipped to the market.
DeKalb Market was brought to fruition by Urban Space, the firm that has brought New Yorkers the Union Square and Columbus Circle Holiday Markets.
Each shipping container comes to Dekalb Market completely bare bones except for some insulation and dry wall sheets to cover the metal walls. It's up to each business/container owner to fashion their space. It's impressive to see what these entrepreneurs have done with limited space in each container: painted walls, decorative molding and even air conditioning. The food vendors have managed to fit entire kitchens into these confined spaces.
Mazie's Bites features traditional soul/southern and non-traditional dishes cooked southern style, such as southern fried fish tacos. On this afternoon, I had the pulled pork brisket: tender and juicy with the perfect saltiness with house-made Cole slaw on a sesame roll. The brisket came with an all time soul food veteran, Mac and Cheese. This was the Mac and Cheese you wish Grandma served on Thanksgiving: creamy, rich and burnt a little on top for flavor and texture. Being from the south and having traveled through Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, I have had my share of soul/southern food. I can attest that what this shipping container is serving ranks among the best soul food I have had. Mazie's Bites is giving their Brooklyn brick and mortar counterparts a run for their money.
Feeling a little lethargic after my indulgence, I strolled over to Joe's the Art of Coffee for a caffeine boost. The interior of Joe's was fashioned with wood finishing and cabinets and the highest caliber coffee/cappuccino machines. The aroma emanating from the inside was enough to give you a jolt of energy. I went for the Dirty Chai - a blend Joe's delicious fresh espresso and Intelligentsia's Chai. The blend of two of New York City's finest coffee and tea purveyors, the spice of the Chai coupled with Joe's espresso made for a happy caffeine marriage.
And Dekalb Market offers much more than food and shopping. On the weekends they have live music, and DJ's spinning everything from hip-hop to salsa from the soon-to-be streaming radio station on site, BBoxradio.com. Dance lessons are offered free as well as DJ classes and fashions shows. With more containers on the way and interest piquing in the space, the Dekalb Market's lasting potential in this community appears abundant.