Chef Stacyjo Vizzo has big plans for the shiny metal shelves that sat empty Friday on a wall cooler inside the Market on Front.
“That’s the future home of the fresh produce. It’ll include our line of salad dressings and sauces,” Vizzo said, noting that the produce will be as local as possible and stacked next to made-in-house salad dressings and sauces, which will also include choices like guacamole and salsas.
Vizzo will prep the goodies inside the market’s open kitchen, where patrons can watch as sandwiches and salads “you can’t find anywhere else in town” are made.
The Market on Front opens Monday on the street level of the new Park Place parking garage at 201 E. Front St. in downtown Missoula.
The concept for all the food found inside the market is simple, owner Ben Sokoloski said.
“We want local, we want quality and we want fresh,” he said. “We’re keeping everything seasonal and unique.”
Included on the market’s menu – which will slowly expand to include breakfast and dinner items – is The Broadway Market, made on a Le Petite Outre hoagie bun and packed with genoa salami, spicy Coppa ham, and topped with a load of veggies and the market’s garlic aioli.
It pays homage to the Broadway Market, run for decades by the Cipolato family.
“It’s a meal for a couple of people,” said Sokoloski, a Missoula native who left town to attend college in Denver and returned to get his MBA.
Market on Front also offers specialty deli meats, cheeses and salads, and a full espresso bar. It will offer a salad and hot bar, as well as grab-and-go meal options.
As much as possible, the market’s food will be made with locally sourced, organic and sustainable products.
Like the fresh produce cooler, the grocery aisles are packed with items Sokoloski and Vizzo hope customers use to make their own meals at home.
The market also has a refrigerator full of microbrews and wall full of wine.
“It’s kind of an all-encompassing market,” Sokoloski said.
Sokoloski hatched the idea for the market as an MBA student at the University of Montana School of Business Administration.
The plan to open a market and deli offering natural, organic, regionally sourced products won the People’s Choice Award at the 23rd annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition in 2012.
A Kickstarter campaign helped raise money to get the market off the ground.
“It was really a community-backed process,” Sokoloski said. “I want this to be the market the community built.”
The location downtown and inside the parking garage makes it ideal for business people looking for quick, quality meals, as well as for students looking for a good meal at a good price, Sokoloski said.
The “bring your dog” patio is a perfect place for people who love the weekend farmers markets to hang out during the week, Sokoloski said.
Inside, the market was designed to be open, creating a natural flow for customers. Its industrial-themed décor is a nod to the fact the block was once home to a warehouse district, Sokoloski said.
The floors and paneling are made from reclaimed wood from a mill in Anaconda. The tables and chairs are from locally sourced wood.
The espresso bar and cash register counter are made from a maple tree that came from the University District.
“The theme is local and organic,” said Jenn Clary, a senior project manager at Encompass Architecture who designed the space. “It’s warm. It feels good. It kind of feels homey.”
Market on Front opened it doors for several days last week to test items and prepare for the soft opening on Monday.
Even after the doors open, Sokoloski and Vizzo want customer input on what they’ll offer at Missoula’s newest market.
“I want people to tell me what they want. We’ve got a feedback box and we really do read it,” Vizzo said. “I want as much feedback as I can get, it will help make it really Missoula.”