Food, Pets and Fun at the Bronx Night Market

By Elizabeth Duluc

The Bronx Night Market is in its second year and has become a popular staple among locals and new businesses. Fordham Road, typically known for its crime rate and busy intersection, didn’t seem a natural location for a food festival. Until June 2018, when the Bronx Night Market opened on Fordham Plaza, serving meals from 4pm to 10pm Saturday nights from August to October. More than 80,000 people attended the event in 2018 and its 2019 season has been equally busy, according to organizers.

The Bronx Night Market is very popular among locals and has attracted some residents from neighboring boroughs. The market gives new businesses the chance to gain exposure in the community and for their owners to meet fellow entrepreneurs. “It’s just a totally different type of energy,” said vendor Stephanie McBarnett, co-owner of Sechebel Catering. “We’ve done other festivals this year as well and it’s just the vibe, the people, the genuineness. We’ve met so many people over the last couple of weeks and they’ve come back to us, even to just say ‘Hi.’”

McBarnett launched her company at The Bronx Night market on May 25, 2019. Sechebel Catering specializes in empanadas, but mixed with different cuisines. One popular dish is a brownie empanada.

The Bronx Market isn’t only known for its various food vendors and its desserts, there are also jewelry artisans and specialty drinks. The market’s animal-friendly policy meant residents came with their dogs, even pit bulls. Autumn’s Bake Shop, which makes human-grade pet treats, had a doggy photo area and handed out pet-friendly treat bags. Owner Rahme Gulcan named her pitbull Autumn CEO of the shop.

Like Sechebel Catering, Autumn’s Bake Shop also launched in 2019. Human-grade pet treats aren’t a common business in the Bronx. “I was tired of feeding her bags of treats that have been sitting on shelves for months at a time, you don’t know what in them, half the time you can’t even pronounce what’s on the label,” says Gulcan. She decided to make treats that were so simple people didn’t have to wonder what was in them. “I wanted to give back to the community,” says Gulcan. “I feel like a lot of people in the Bronx don’t have access to organic things. It’s really difficult to go to the supermarket and find organic ingredients even for yourself, let alone for your dog.”

Live artists performed as attendees broke out in spontaneous dance. More people joined in while holding their food and drinks. Children played on a synthetic grass patch with building blocks. At nearby tables, families enjoyed their meals and drinks while watching the children play.

Miss Holly of Miss Holly’s Smokehouse said a friend recommended the night market as “a really cool crowd, easy.” Her table featured a spread of smoked sandwiches and mac and cheese.

Vendors often connect during the Bronx Night Market and share tips about their businesses. “There’s some people who have been in business for years here, there’s some people who are new just like we are,” said McBarnett. “I think the biggest take away is to try everything and be willing to make mistakes. Some days will be great and some days will be terrible, but it never feels like you’re failing as a person or that your business is failing.”

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