[Updated 2/3/2015 with the correct pricing for Savor Santa Ana tastes: $2. Still cheap.]
It's been a long time coming, but downtown Santa Ana's food hall is finally ready to throw open its doors to the public. The paper is down, the signs are up, and the tenants are buying their start-up ingredients. Fourth Street Market (4SM) is located at 201 E. 4th St., adjacent to Style World and across from the East End Marketplace. Monday, February 16, 2015 is opening day, though there will be a public preview during the Savor Santa Ana event on Thursday, February 12 from 5-8 p.m. where the vendors will sell small tastes for
$1 $2 each.
Portola Coffee Lab will be the first thing you see as you walk in; owner Jeff Duggan says Santa Ana will be a prototype for how Costa Mesa and Tustin will run. For one thing, there won't be a pickup window; the person who takes your order will make your coffee in front of you, more like bartenders than the usual American concept of baristas. Anyone who's waited in the interminable Saturday morning line at Portola Costa Mesa and then had to wait for their drink to be made should appreciate that.
The center of the market will be taken up by small food stands serving food to go, looking something like the world's least boring food court.
- Jason Quinn of The Playground will have four concepts in the market: Noodle Tramp, a khao soi (Thai curried noodle) stand; PFC, serving the fried chicken recipe on the menu at The Playground, based on Uncle Lou's restaurant in Memphis; Wagyu Chuck, selling the famed Playground burger, and Recess, the bar in the back with beer, wine and cocktails on tap.
- Felix Barron, a local boy who went to Los Angeles and opened the wildly popular KTCHN DTLA and the short-lived (oh, Pasadena...) KTCHN Pasadena brunch restaurants, will return home with KTCHN DTSA. It will be open in the mornings serving breakfast, and then barbecue after that. What style, you ask? Whatever style suits the meat they have on hand, says Barron.
- Danny Godinez of Anepalco's will run Ink Waffles, which will serve "gastronomic waffles"--waffles with unexpected additions to the batter, whatever that means. This is in addition to but unrelated to the under-construction Mercado at the Yost, which is possibly the worst-kept secret in the OC food scene.
- The Dos Chinos chamacos will have a permanent place to park; the menu is expected to be similar to the truck--after all, why fix what ain't broken?.
- Izumi Hamagaki, a bartender from Los Angeles, will run Radical Botanicals, a.k.a. RadBot, a cold-pressed juice stand with juices presumably combined like wholesome cocktails.
- Jon Melendez, who ran the enormously popular Civic that shuttered earlier this month, will open Mar, a Latin seafood stand. This concept is completely different than Civic; there are rumors that Civic itself will resurface elsewhere.
- Phil Burden, formerly of the Grilled Cheese Spot, will open Stockyard Sandwich. There's not much to go on here, since there is exactly zero Web or social media presence for Stockyard: gourmet sandwiches, we assume.
- Claudia González will open her first Chunk 'n Chip brick-and-mortar store; they'll be making the cookies for their homemade ice cream "sammiches" in front of the customers. They were going to make them in a window in the front, but the health department had some notes for them... go figure.
- Erin Whitcomb will open another Front Porch Pops paletas stand, but this one will include Torch S'mores, which is exactly what it sounds like: à la minute s'mores. Homemade marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate (or not...), and fire. Gustavo and I had these Thanksgiving weekend at Santa Ana Patchwork; these are worth waiting for.
In addition, there's a store in the front on the west side of the market; the Honor Roll Community Market, which will feature the products made by the food artisans in the incubator kitchens, as well as beer, wine, cheese, and shelf-stable goods (think jams, honey, etc.). Boldo Bowl owner Paul Chamberlin, who sources all of his produce from local farms and backyards, is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to begin selling produce in the Honor Roll market.
In the back of the market is Electric City Butcher, Michael Puglisi's whole-animal butcher shop, based as closely as health codes will allow on his family's butcher shop in Sicily. Expect a lot of excellent charcuterie besides the meat cuts; he supplied the sausage stand that was in the same plaza as KTCHN Pasadena, and it was superb. He'll also be doing classic French charcuterie, such as pâtés. Don't expect to walk up and order a ribeye, though; whole-animal butchery means just that: using the whole animal, and there are relatively few ribeyes on a cow. Fortunately, he's also a good cook and can tell you how to prepare unfamiliar cuts.
Fourth Street Market is, however, more than a bunch of lunch counters and a Dean and DeLuca-type store. The food hall and the store grew around the original concept of the Fourth Street Market: incubator kitchens. Along the east side of the building are eight small kitchens available for rent by food artisans; on the west side there's a confectionery kitchen with its own climate control, for working with candies and chocolates, and a certified gluten-free incubator kitchen, which will be swabbed weekly (or more often if requested by its occupant).
These kitchens are meant to bridge the gap between small-scale production under California's cottage-food laws and large-scale production involving co-packers or full commercial kitchen leases. These kitchens will be short-term rentals (by the hour, day, week or month) rather than locking business owners into the daunting year-plus leases required by commercial kitchens or the high production quota required by co-packers. They're provided with the help of Food Centricity, a food artisan business accelerator based in the L.A. Prep kitchens on Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights; Food Centricity provide consulting and advice as well as training from concept through delivery of the product.
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In addition, the East End Kitchens will share one inventory system; all raw material bought in will be loaded into the system, and finished product will be logged as well. This will give the artisans access to an instant profit-and-loss sheet. Small businesses live and die by pennies when it comes to materials cost; this will call out any waste in an obvious way so that they can operate as efficiently as possible, as well as give people who may have started their businesses based solely on the quality of their home-cooked product a vital lesson in business economics.
Behind the East End Kitchens will be Foodbeast's demonstration kitchen and film studio. The online food site will be moving production to Santa Ana; when their studio is not in use, it can be used for classes, cookbook signings, lectures, etc.
Fourth Street Market is located at 201 E. 4th St., Santa Ana, between Bush and Spurgeon streets; parking is in the pay lot on Spurgeon between 4th and 5th, or metered on the street. The market's hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week, except for the breakfast concepts, which will open at 7 a.m.