Phoenix Public Market celebrates 12th birthday, looks to keep growing

After 12 years, Phoenix Public Market's popularity continues to rise as the downtown Phoenix community grows. (Jade Carter/DD)

As Phoenix Public Market celebrates its 12-year anniversary, it looks to continue growing along with downtown.

Phoenix Public Market Open Air and the Phoenix Public Market Cafe have been a popular place for people of all ages and income levels. The market accepts food stamps, maintaining its ultimate goal of getting quality, healthy food to all people.

“It’s really about bringing in everybody to come shop, so all of our local neighbors and all of our vendors who show up week after week,” Market manager Sara Matlin said.

The Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market is a nonprofit organization which relies on the community and the hard work of everyone involved, Matlin said. The open air market occurs weekly, and works with the Phoenix Public Market Cafe, a restaurant at the same location.

Aaron Chamberlain has owned the cafe for two years now, along with St. Francis near Central Avenue and Camelback Road, and plans to open a Tempe Public Market later this year.

“I am a downtown guy. I love downtown Phoenix. I’ve lived in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and L.A, so coming back to Phoenix was the obvious choice for me,” Chamberlin said. “I think there’s massive opportunity and there’s a bunch of young people now, and it’s starting to become a really cool city.”

Chamberlin will soon be opening another venture in downtown named Taco Chelo. He expects to open the Mexican restaurant at the end of May on Roosevelt and Fifth streets in the proposed development known as The Blocks.

The restaurant will include nine menu items, a bar, and late hours. It will be 1,000 square feet, and the small space is meant to cater to college students, families, downtown workers and anyone who enjoys Mexican cuisine.

The Market had a special event on Feb. 4 to celebrate its 12-year anniversary. Event activities included yoga, live music, swing dancing, kids’ crafts, face painting, balloon artists and giveaways, along with the regular weekly vendors.

“I’ve been to the Phoenix Public Market a few times and the atmosphere has been so welcoming and inviting,” said Katie Tucker, a weekly Phoenix Public Market attendee.

When the market first opened, it was one of the largest markets in Phoenix, according to Chamberlin.

“Some of our vendors have been with us for 12 years. They were there day one,” Matlin said.

As the years passed, some vendors were able to open their own locations around Phoenix. The market has been bringing in new small businesses in order to help launch them from the ground up, Matlin said.

“With all of the changes in downtown, we see just an ever growing need and place for the Phoenix Public Market within downtown Phoenix,” Matlin said. Downtown Phoenix is only growing and only expanding, and we’re really excited to be part of that and to be in the center of it.”

New apartment buildings, condos and businesses are bringing a larger population downtown, increasing the Phoenix Pubic Market’s popularity.

“I’m expecting us to see more and more of a surge down here on a regular basis, not just during the week, not just during the day,” Chamberlin said.

Contact the reporter at bayne.froney@asu.edu.