Match point: Strumlaufs bring market to Market
What does a pro tennis player and his sculptor Dad do when the son decides to hang up his tennis racket? Open up a grocery store, of course!
By the end of September the Downtown Mall should finally have a quality grocery store, the Market Street Market, brought to you by a most unlikely doubles pairing in the food business.
So how did they decide on a grocery store?
"I wouldn't say there was any defining moment that we came to a concrete decision," says son Raphael Strumlauf," but when I came back last year we really started looking for something that we could do together."
Indeed, father and son are clearly close, shoulder hugging each other, finishing each others sentences, and laughing and smiling as they talk about their new adventure together.
Raphael says that he and his father, Steven, who both would call themselves foodies, have always felt like there was a great need for a grocery store downtown.
"Something that would be convenient, so you wouldn't have to get in your car, and have great products and selection at a reasonable price as well as a deli with home cooked prepared foods," he says.
Raphael also says that his Dad, who grew up in New York City, has always yearned for a New York-style deli. "I think that's what pushed us over the edge in deciding to do this," he says.
Steven Strumlauf, known for creating the famed "naked boy" statue that sat on the Mall for years before it was damaged by vandals in the late 1990s, simply says he wanted to open a place "that had stuff I would like to eat."
To that end, the store will feature normal grocery store fare like eggs, milk, and cheese, as well as gourmet foods and locally-grown produce and meats. The duo are also putting in a rather large kitchen and deli area with seating for 15. "The place will have a definite Jewish deli aspect to it," says Steven.
They've also hired Mario Moyer, a Costa Rican-born chef who has cooked at a number of local restaurants, including Keswick Hall, Clifton Inn, and the Millmont Grille. Moyer says he'll have things like ribs, half-roasted chickens, brazed lamb shank, and an assortment of specialty sandwiches for which he'll be roasting meats on site.
"We'll be emphasizing the brazing side of things," he says, "Stuff people can take home with them. We'll have a slew of everything."
Steven says the availability of the large, light-filled space–- the former home of Cadogan Square Antiques and Unlimited Vitality (the latter a quirky health food store once accused of scaring away its customers and which closed in 2002)–- was a major factor in deciding to open. As Raphael points out, the kitchen is nearly fully lit at 11am without having to turn on any lights. "We looked all over the Mall for a space," says Steven, " but this is really the best space and location for a store."
As for that pro tennis career that Raphael left behind, which is clearly weighing heavily on his mind as the U.S. Open gets underway, he insists he has no regrets.
Indeed, while his thoughts drift momentarily toward the action unfolding at Flushing Meadows, they come back quickly to a relationship he's formed with a local farmer whose grass-fed beef they'll be selling exclusively in the new store.
"This," he says calmly, "is what I'm doing now."