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Effective today, Atlas Restaurant Group will take a larger role in leading the operations and marketing of Cross Street Market. Cana Development, which previously oversaw these areas for the market, will remain on the project as leasing manager, continuing its role in finding tenants to fill vacant stalls.
Caves Valley Partners, which redeveloped the market that reopened in 2019, holds the management agreement with Baltimore Public Markets Corporation and remains the controlling partner on the project. MacKenzie is still the property manager handling rent collection, repairs, security, and custodial services.
Atlas owns Watershed and Atlas Fish Market at Cross Street Market. These are two of the 21 food concepts the company owns in the Baltimore area. Watershed is the largest tenant at the market with 5,200 sq. ft. of space on the inside, plus a large rooftop deck.
Atlas will use its team and company infrastructure to work on marketing campaigns for the market and individual tenants; assist with social media and photography for tenants; work on programming for the market; and help with some redesigns within the market. This will include a market-wide sound system that will play consistent music throughout the building, adding more televisions to improve game watching, turning one of the common seating areas into a stage for performances, and adding more signage.
“We wanted to take more of a hospitality approach and less of a real estate approach to the inside of the market,” said CVP Partner Arsh Mirmiran. “We want to make the market a fun experience.”
Joe Sweeney, director of marketing and public relations for Atlas, told SouthBMore.com Atlas is not looking to fill any of the vacant stalls with additional Atlas concepts at this time.
He noted Watershed and Atlas Fish Market have been very successful, and Atlas hopes to get more of the guests it brings to Federal Hill to explore the rest of the market. He said the company also wants to see more consistency in vendor hours so customers know what to expect when visiting the market.
Sweeney said Cross Street Market provides Atlas a space where it can host larger private parties incorporating vendors. He said Atlas is approached about big events and conferences, but the company does not have a place to host. He noted events will likely be at less busy hours for the market.
In a press release, Atlas and CVP said, “There are several other unique ideas that Atlas and Caves Valley Partners plan on introducing over the next few months that will help us achieve the goal of having Cross Street Market become a primary food, beverage and entertainment destination for both locals and tourists.”
“Our priority is to drive more traffic to the Market, in order to increase the sales at each individual vendor,” said Jason Albert, operations manager for Cross Street Market, in a press release. “We will also invite the businesses to take advantage of Atlas’ significant buying power with distributors, in order for them to reduce their food and beverage costs and increase profitability.”
“Our fundamental goal is to assist all of our remaining original tenants and our new tenants to succeed moving forward, in order to allow the project to recapture the success it had achieved in the months leading up to the pandemic,” said Mirmiran in a press release. “Partnering with Atlas Restaurant Group is the first step in doing so.”
Mirmiran noted most food halls around the country are struggling right now with the exception of ones in the southern United States where there are less COVID-19 restrictions.
Mirmiran said Cross Street Market worked with tenants on various rent abatements to help them survive the pandemic. In the press release he added, “We knew that it wasn’t fair to expect our tenants to pay full rent with various, ongoing government restrictions placed on businesses, so we agreed to offer rent assistance throughout the pandemic, with the goal of retaining as many tenants as possible. This decision also had a large financial impact on our own business, so as we move forward having to charge full rent to our tenants, we need to find new ways to attract more guests to Cross Street Market.”
In the past year and a half, vendors Annoula’s Greek Kitchen, Ono Poké, Phubs, Rice Crook, Rooster & Hen, Royal Farms Chicken, Southrn’ Spice, and Cans Filling Station have closed at Cross Street Market. New concepts added in that period of time include The Chicken Lab, Blowfish Poke, Watershed, Atlas Fish Market, and Crepe Crazy.
There are currently seven vacant stalls in the market including the larger spaces vacated by Rooster & Hen and Cans.
Mirmiran said an empanada concept is coming to the former Ono Poké space and an Egyptian concept is also likely for another vacant space. The Cross Street Market team is also in talks with a group of local radio stations that would build a studio and host shows out of one of the stalls and bring musical guests to the market. Mirmiran said Cana is also working hard to get another bodega concept in the former Rooster & Hen space. He said they should be able to find a another beer stall to take over the space vacated by Cans.
Bullhead Pit Beef is temporarily closed and Mirmiran said they are working to keep them open.