NEW YORK, NY – Vendy Plaza will bring a delicious lineup of local street food back to East Harlem’s historic open-air market place, La Marqueta, for summer 2015. Created by the Vendy Awards, New York City’s premier street food competition from the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, in partnership with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the weekly event will begin with a grand opening on Sunday, May 17th and run each Sunday from 12-6pm through September 9th.
This year’s expanded lineup of food vendors at Vendy Plaza will serve their Vendy Award-winning cuisine while participants listen to live music inspired by El Barrio and enjoy beer from a beer garden featuring local New York City breweries throughout the season. The initiative is part of La Marqueta Retoña, launched by City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito in 2014 to revitalize the iconic East Harlem landmark. La Marqueta is a city-owned market operated by the NYC Economic Development Corporation.
On May 24th, Speaker Mark-Viverito will continue to kick off the summer 2015 season by giving opening remarks at Vendy Plaza and thanking all the vendors and organizations who helped make it possible.
“We are delighted with the return of Vendy Plaza to La Marqueta,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has spearheaded the revival of La Marqueta in her district. “La Marqueta has become one of the leading unique markets and community epicenters in the city. Last summer, many flocked to El Barrio/East Harlem to enjoy the amazing food, as well as the arts and culture. With the expansion of Vendy Plaza and the ongoing cultural programming under the La Marqueta Retoña initiative, we’re expecting many more this year. I would like to thank all of our partners for helping us ensure that La Marqueta continues to be a vibrant center of our community life.”
Leading this year’s efforts will be new Vendy Plaza Manager Cesar Fuentes, who brings over 15 years of experience building and managing the award-winning Red Hook Food Vendors marketplace, home of four Vendy Cup winners in the last six years. The son of a street vendor, Fuentes grew up immersed in street-food culture, and has consulted on food projects across the city including early development of the Brooklyn Flea, Red Hook Mercado, Maker Faire food concessions, and the NYC Parks Department celebration of the anniversary of the World’s Fair. In 2014, Brooklyn Magazine recognized him as one of the top food influencers in the city.
“Being the son of a street vendor means I have experienced both the benefits and hardships inherent to the profession, and the vendors I work with are like family to me. It’s been amazing to see these vendors lead a street food revolution that’s taken hold in New York City and across the country,” said Cesar Fuentes, Manager, Vendy Plaza. “I look forward to leading Vendy Plaza as it builds on its past success and recreates the public market experience by bringing the best local vendors to one of the city’s most storied public spaces.”
La Marqueta, located underneath the elevated tracks of the Metro North railroad at 1590 Park Avenue, has been a cultural and commercial center for the residents of East Harlem for nearly 100 years. For decades, it served as a location for residents across the city in search of foods they couldn’t find anywhere else.
After a period of decline, a strong multi-agency commitment is driving the market towards vibrancy. Last summer, Speaker Mark-Viverito announced the La Marqueta Retoña, or “reblooming,” which will ensure that culinary creativity and the arts continue to thrive with innovative initiatives such this one.