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The new Founders’ Food Hall and Market features 20 vendors selling 100 per cent P.E.I. made products
Friday was a dream come true for businesswoman Rita Jreije.
Her restaurant Big Burger in the Charlottetown Mall is celebrating 25 years in business this week.
To celebrate the milestone in grand fashion, she and her husband Charbel, have opened a second location in the Founders’ Food Hall and Market in the old Founders’ Hall building on the city’s waterfront.
The urban market opened to the public on Friday.
“We got the opportunity to come down here,’’ Jreije told The Guardian. “It’s extremely exciting because my dad owned Big Burger, so it’s staying in the family. My husband and I have taken it over, so it’s still a family business.’’
Even though Jreije spent 15 years in the banking industry, she knows the burger business well. She was 14 when her father, Eddy Abu Rashad first opened the small food kiosk in the mall’s food court in August of 1994. She started on the cash, and 25 years later, she and her husband are now the owners.
“Dad did his thing (with) awesome service, generosity and awesome local burgers. We want to grow Big Burger so we thought this (market location) would be an awesome second location start and hopefully it will go from there. We’re taking it to the next level,’’ Jreije said.
Big Burger is one of about food and market vendors that make up the Founders’ Food Hall and Market.
Paige Hart runs the Holy Fox in the market. She and her co-owner and chef Christine Dickey ran the operation out of a food truck last year, serving all locally-sourced fresh foods, where nothing was deep fried. They offer locally-sourced sandwiches, corn tacos, hearty sides, pretzels and coffee candied bacon on a stick.
The truck was located on University Avenue in Charlottetown and in Montague. Now, their efforts are solely directed to making the market location work so they won’t be operating the food truck this year.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to have our own spot,’’ Hart said. “This (opportunity) was sooner than we ever imagined. We’ve been working on this the last few months, and so, this will be our home-based kitchen. Eventually, we want to get back into the food truck market but, for now, this will be a nice spot for us.’’
Brad Doiron, who operates Founders Delicatessen, can barely hold his excitement. He’s offering a wide variety of processed and value-added meat products, all produced on P.E.I. with Island meats.
“Oh my God, this is exciting,’’ Doiron said, explaining that his business partner asked him to set up the deli.
“He approached me and asked if I wanted to run the shop so we became partners. This is a brand new company,’’ said Doiron. “We have been doing wholesale, selling to a lot of restaurants in town like Famous Peppers.’’
Phil Enserink, who runs East Cape Oyster Company, has partnered with Mark Dolan from Peakes Quay to operate the Rising Tide Oyster Bar in the new market.
“We’re going to do everything cold . . . oysters on the half shell,’’ Enserink said. “We might add a few other items down the road once we kind of get the ball rolling.’’
Enserink and Dolan will also have a retail component to the operation for customers who buy oysters and take them to go.
Enserink said the best part of being a vendor at the market is getting being a part of all the young up-and-coming companies that surround them.
Meanwhile, Lee Clarke has opened Green Fork which sells vegetables from 12 small farm organic producers.
Clarke said in the past he’d often meet customers, who had subscription boxes, in a church parking lot and sell out of the back of his truck on pickup day.
“The main problem with that is it’s not really convenient for everybody,’’ Clarke said. “Here, you can go to it seven days a week when the market is open.’’