An urban gourmet food hall featuring about 10 different food vendors and a full-service bar has been announced as the first tenant in Square 46, the long-awaited mixed-use development at 4646 Government St. in Mid City.
White Star Market, the brainchild of local asset management firm head Clark Gaines, will sit in a 5,900-square-foot space along Government Street. Gaines says the concept is similar to St. Roch Market in New Orleans or the popular Gotham West Market in New York.
Each vendor will serve different delicacies, with no overlap in cuisine, and customers will have everything from tacos to oysters to choose from, Gaines says. Less than half of the vendor spaces are left for lease. Gaines is leasing the space from Square 46 developer Joshua Hoffpauir, and the vendors will sublease from Gaines.
The response from both nearby residents and chefs looking to rent space has been overwhelming, Gaines says.
“The first reaction has usually been ‘Thank God’ or ‘Thank you,’” Gaines says, describing Mid City residents’ reactions when they hear about the business concept.
Each vendor will cook their food in a communal kitchen in the back, and seating will be available in the market for customers.
Gaines says he got the idea for this business after moving back to Baton Rouge from Ohio, where he and his family lived for eight years.
“After moving back here, it was kind of something we missed and we wanted to open one here,” Gaines says, adding that putting the market in Mid City was a “no-brainer” for he and his wife.
Gaines says he cannot reveal who the vendors are, but may start doing so next week.
“White Star Market was tailor made for Square 46 and Mid City Baton Rouge,” Hoffpauir says in a statement. “Every great city is known for its food has this concept. This will put Mid City Baton Rouge on the culinary map.”
The 25,000-square-foot Square 46 development will sit on the site of the old Giamanco’s restaurant and will contain commercial, office and residential space. The project was announced in November 2014, but Hoffpauir held off construction on the project while waiting to see plans for the Government Street “road diet.” Groundbreaking is set to begin in the next few months, and construction is expected to take nine to 12 months.