NYC’s favorite sprawling outdoor food market Smorgasburg is back in business after nixing last year’s season due to the pandemic. Following a Jersey City debut in May, co-founder Eric Demby confirms that the market is now reopening all of its four locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn with dozens of new and returning vendors over the next month.
Starting June 13, Smorgasburg in Prospect Park returns every Sunday in the park, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 35 vendors — including Parantha Alley and Vaquero Elotes — and a full bar. Smorgasburg’s Williamsburg flagship location at the Marsha P. Johnson state park is back open on Saturdays starting June 26, also from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with over 35 vendors that are still being confirmed.
What started out in May as the Smorgasburg-operated Hester Flea at Seward Park, at Hester and Essex Street, will fully transition into another Smorgasburg-branded food market starting the first weekend in July. All of its food vendors — and a few flea vendors — will be sourced from nearby downtown neighborhoods including Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and the East Village.
“One of the many silver linings from the dark cloud of the pandemic is Smorgasburg returning to its roots as a local, community market,” Demby says.
New vendor applicants are still being accepted at each location. Up to half of the 90 to 100 vendors involved in Smorgasburg’s 2019 season are no longer involved with the market due to the pandemic, according to Demby. He’s now looking to grow Smorgasburg’s participant numbers again with an emphasis on small business owners who are people of color, women, and identify as LGBTQ+.
Elsewhere, Smorgasburg’s World Trade Center location has been open since mid-May with five vendors including Mao’s Bao and Carlito’s Barbecue Taqueria, with more to be added later in the season. Smorgasburg in Jersey City kicked off over the Memorial Day holiday weekend with over 20 vendors including a mix of New Jersey newcomers like Guyanese roti and sugarcane juice vendor Tradewinds II and cinnamon bun vendor Mav’s Top Buns. An outdoor beer garden, open seven days a week, is slated to be added to the market in mid-June.
At the World Trade Center, Smorgasburg has seen between 1,000 and 2,500 attendees on the weekends it has been open, while Jersey City saw between 2,000 to 3,000 customers passing through last weekend, in less than ideal weather.
“We’re going out in bigger numbers, and getting more comfortable every weekend,” Demby says. “It’s a culmination of the work we have been doing over the past year and a half to stay safe.”
The openings mark the first time that Smorgasburg has returned to NYC in full since October 2019. During the pandemic, the food market went through its own series of pivots that continue to be incorporated into the operation, including Grubhub-powered takeout and delivery options at Smorgasburg’s Williamsburg, Prospect Park, and Lower East Side locations. Smorgasburg also plans to collect donations for food nonprofit Rethink at every location, starting with Jersey City and Prospect Park, and NYC’s mobile vaccination bus will be making stops at the markets throughout the summer.
Smorgasburg’s five-year-old Los Angeles offshoot will also reopen this summer, starting July 4, with 50 vendors in its lineup.