Merchants will be playing musical chairs for the rest of the year as the Reading Terminal Market begins its major reconstruction project. One of the first moves will be by DiNic's to the center court stall vacated by Harry G. Ochs & Sons.
Before it's over, expect at least three more center court merchants either to move to new spots along center court or alter their footprint, according to sources who did not wish to be identified because details are not yet settled for any except the DiNic's move, which still awaits signatures. All the subsequent moves, as currently proposed, rely upon the DiNic's relocation.
The market will move Flying Monkey out of its current center court location to create a demonstration kitchen and meeting space along the Avenue D rear wall, and create additional retail space which will require adjustments to existing merchant footprints.
Additional moves of merchants along Center Court could be firmed up and announced as early as next week.
Alert shoppers may have noticed a sign at the now vacant Market Blooms spot on Avenue C, between Giunta's and Coastal Cave, announcing that L. Halteman's will shift its footprint to take over that space, since they will lose part of their existing footage to the Avenue D project. Preliminary plans call for Halteman's deli counter to front on Avenue C. Market Blooms continues to operate its Avenue A space along the 12th Street side of the market.
Paul Steinke, the RTM's general manager, emphasized that the market will retain the existing ratios of purveyors to food court businesses, although the locations within the market are subject to change.
Steinke said he is evaluating applications from a large number of potential vendors encompassing all four categories of merchants: Purveyors, Food Basket, Mercantile and Food Court.
The market's mission statement calls for it to provide a wide variety of produce, meat, fish, bakery and dairy products, and other raw and prepared food. Its Operating Policy Guidelines specify that in filling vacancies general preference be given to growers and purveyors of local and regional produce, and that businesses offering food intended primarily or exclusively for consumption within the market be limited to no more that the greater of one-third of the total businesses in the market, or one-third of the total leasable area of the Market.
DiNic's move will make its operations much more efficient, since Ochs is a considerably larger space and also features a walk-in refrigerator, which will eliminate the need to haul meats from storage areas elsewhere in the market. They will also be able to double seating capacity. A probable addition to the menu will be meatballs.