The six-month-old NoMa Warehouse in Columbia’s Cottontown neighborhood has plans to integrate a food hall concept into its space, with four to six mobile food vendors posting up.
With hopes for an October launch, executive director Beth Lawson wants to host the vendors at the building for an initial two month tenure. To buoy this addition, the group has taken over a loading dock portion of its building that the landlord had previously used as storage.
That space, which will offer up a covered outdoor area for use by vendors, will inform the area's eponymous name, The Loading Dock at NoMa Warehouse.
“The five months that I’ve worked here in this neighborhood, I personally love to not have to drive, just walk where you go. I really want the lunch option to not just be all the surrounding neighborhoods,” Lawson said in an interview with Free Times. “I do think it's really viable, there’s great restaurants, there’s just not enough yet. … I think it's going to be really well received.”
The new Loading Dock concept and the accompanying mobile food vendors fits well into the nearby neighborhood's need for more walkable food options, Lawson reasoned. She pointed to the apartment development at the former Jim Moore Cadillac site as a reason the food hall would be a sustainable choice for both vendors and NoMa.
She is still working out finalities with potential vendors and was quick to warn any concrete dates or a timeline for the project could shift as things develop. But Lawson detailed that they hope to have a variety of options and that the initial two-month tenures for vendors could ebb and flow based on feedback after the initial run.
Additionally, while a new portion of the building was leased mainly to accommodate the move, she said they could feature the food vendors throughout the property as well.
Loosely, Lawson hoped to offer lunch hours at the warehouse from Monday through Friday and then have dinner options Wednesday through Saturday. She compared the food vendors to something akin to what one might find at Soda City Market, but with a space devoted to covered seating.
“I think the thing I want everyone to understand is we’re bringing the food component, but we’re still … about supporting the artists,” she said. “We’re just adding this feature in as well.”
In its half year in operation, Lawson’s artist studio/event space/co-working business has taken on a charming role in the city’s emerging Cottontown neighborhood. She’s fostered a close relationship with next door neighbors Indah Coffee, and grown the business' name with the weekly NoMa Flea Market, along with other events that typically offer live music, vendors and food.
The new food hall advancement comes on top of other shifts the primarily art-and-event space plans to make. Lawson detailed that they will begin offering permanent artist space in the warehouse, in addition to the current drop-in, drop-out co-working model. She explained it was a move tailored to better suit their clients and their “social shopping” emphasis.
“We’ll still do the NOMA Flea but have six to eight fixed vendors in the warehouse,” she explained. “It's going to be modeled around some of those things we see in bigger cities. A bit of a smaller version.”