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Will East End Market become Orlando’s new food hub?

The community market on Corrine Drive faces competition from all sides, but says “a rising tide lifts all boats”

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Heather Grove, John Rife and Gabby Lothrop

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

“I think I’m most excited that we are helping incubate small, local businesses that make Central Florida a better place to live,” says Kamrin, who comes at this whole endeavor from a business background.

The businesses are excited about this prospect, too. “I am definitely an incubator business from the ground up,” says Tonda Corrente, owner of La Femme du Fromage. “I work every single day just to promote what I’ve got, which I’ve always done, and now to promote the four walls I’ll have [at East End].”

“We’re more of an established business than some of the others,” says Shannon Talty, owner of the Olde Hearth Bread Company. “But the coolest part of this, to me, is allowing people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to to have a retail space.”

Upstairs becomes primarily about the community. Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine & Events will have an office, and the building’s office will also act as the mailing address for organizations like Slow Food Orlando and local foodie magazine Edible Orlando. “How great would it be,” asks Lothrop, “to have a lot of start-ups in an environment where … you’re running into people and you’re bouncing ideas off of each other?”

Most of the space will be reserved as a rentable event hall with a demonstration kitchen. Classes will be offered on everything from gutting fish to baking, with cameras and large flat-screen monitors used to accommodate larger classes; the space could also be used for parties or private events.

Rife and Lothrop are also business partners on a project called A Local Folkus, which handles the Harvest Festival, farm-to-table dinners and more. “If East End is our community hub, A Local Folkus is our community outreach part of that,” says Rife.

“The first time we walked through the building, we were like, ‘This would be a beautiful event space,’” says Lothrop, who has been an event planner by trade. “The market on its own is a really great project for us, but we really wanted to build a giant sandbox … for a lot of the things we wanted to see growing in the community.”

All of this is about more than just the ideals. It’s the business. “East End lets us put more bait in the water,” says Rife. “Maybe it’s going to be a challenge, but our job is to entice more people in.”

The participants

As you turn onto Virginia Avenue from Mills on your way into the Audubon Park Garden District, you see construction going on across the street. This is the long-awaited Mills Park, a mixed-use space featuring some trendy retail and restaurants. The largest parcel, which is clearly visible to anyone heading toward East End from this direction, is a 24,000-square-foot Fresh Market. Founded in North Carolina, the chain bills itself as “[y]our neighborhood organic food market and premium-quality local produce store.”

To the East End crew, this is not a problem. Neither is the Trader Joe’s going in on 17-92 near Winter Park Village, nor Eat More Produce, already well-established a few blocks south on 17-92. Neither is the Homegrown Local Food Co-operative over in Ivanhoe Village. Neither is the Fresh 24 produce market that opened this past year on Corrine Drive in the same plaza as Redlight Redlight.

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