I don't care what the Chinese say, 2011 is the year of the market. Whether it's the retro-fab Revival Market in the Heights, gourmand-friendly Relish in River Oaks or the proliferation and expansion of farmers markets around town, the melding of local products and freshly prepared foods has taken hold around Houston.
"It's something we've been wanting to do for years," owner Benjy Levit says. "It will be similar to the scope of Antone's but with a local, artisan approach."
"What's going to be in the market will depend, so maybe one day there will be a great local seafood, or maybe we'll have local vegetables like okra, cucumbers and tomatoes," Levit says.
Levit says to expect counter service, made-to-order sandwiches and salads, prepared foods and house-made favorites from Benjy's, including the restaurant's famous beer nuts, granola and cheese crackers. Local Foods will source products from 15-20 local vendors to sell directly and use in the sandwiches and salads, including Texas Hill Country olive oil, Pola cheese and a new draft root beer from the guys behind the forthcoming 8th Wonder Brewery.
"We're going to be using artisan bread, if there's bologna in a sandwich, it'll be house-cured," Levit says. "What's going to be in the market will depend, so maybe one day there will be a great local seafood, or maybe we'll have local vegetables like okra, cucumbers and tomatoes. It's the local ingredients and vendors we already work with at Benjy's but also available for purchase."
Designed by Found for the Home co-owner Aaron Rambo, Levit says the space will be a mix of modern design and found objects with seating for 60. Local Foods is expected to open in October with service from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at first, with breakfast hours to be added in the future.