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Grass Valley’s Thursday Night Market limits vendors

The Thursday Night Market in Grass Valley is limiting the number of food vendors this year to the first several who have contacted the downtown association.

The change from previous years is meant to provide a variety of options without vendors stepping on each other’s toes, said Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Julia Jordan.

“What we decided to do was see how the food flow will be, and should we decide there is a need to include additional food vendors, we will,” she said. “We don’t want to make it so that there are so many that nobody will make a profit. We’re starting off kind of basic.”



Three vendors are currently on the waiting list, Jordan said.

One of those is Calla Lily Crepes, whose owner, Darren Barr-Engstrom, questioned the change in the market protocol.




“It just seems a little protectionist,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for six years and there’s never been a question about it. All the restaurants have good food, but people want to be able to walk around and enjoy street food. Not everyone wants to sit down at a restaurant for a street fair.”

For small businesses, especially those without a brick-and-mortar location, the markets and festivals are a significant source of money, some food vendors said.

“The Thursday Night Market is what keeps people like (Barr-Engstrom) and I afloat. We need something like this to keep going,” said Ed Kent, owner of Coloma Wraps, which only sells food during festivals and markets.

“I used to do 40 or 50 shows a year but because of the change in the economy, I’ve had to cut that down this year, so not having the market would be huge this year.”

“It’s been a political battle pretty much the whole time,” he said. “It seems like we have a product that’s pretty different from a restaurant or anything else, and we do pretty well there. People expect us to be there and they’ve made it harder and harder.”

Carl Brenner, co-owner of Bear River Pasta, serves on the GVDA board and promotions committee for the Thursday Night Market.

He said the number of vendors was a decision made by the board to monitor the participation in the market, make changes accordingly and limit competition from restaurants.

“We started by making a concentric circle of inclusion,” Brenner said, which included prioritizing downtown merchants, then associate members, those in the city of Grass Valley and finally regional businesses. “The second step would be to look at visitation and attendance, and based upon that, we would look at food vendors.”

Five different vendors will offer street cafes, including Jimmy’s Catering, the Holbrooke Hotel, Christopher’s Deli — and Brenner’s restaurant, Bear River Pasta.

But Brenner said his inclusion was justified by their work and catering with Union 151.

“There are more restaurants that are actually located in Grass Valley than have been in past years, so that restricts the number of outside vendors,” he said.

GVDA will have a booth at the corner of Mill and Main streets for the market where visitors can place comments. For information, contact the GVDA at 530-272-8315.

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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