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Wine tasting, free Wi-Fi planned for updated Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Downtown Los Angeles' re-imagined Grand Central Market may soon have wine tasting, free wireless Internet access and couches -- kind of like "downtown's living room," one consultant said.

The major overhaul is intended to catapult the the landmark community marketplace into a new food retail age, brought on by downtown's changing demographics.

The nearly 100-year-old market on Broadway near 3rd Street houses more than 40 food stalls.

Owner Adele Yellin is leading the project and has hired as consultants Joseph Shuldiner, who founded the Institute of Domestic Technology and Altadena Farmers Market, and Kevin West of Saving the Season. BCV, part of the design collaboration behind the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, is the architect, and Rick Moses is the developer.

Shuldiner and West said they hoped to install local chefs and entrepreneurs, including retailers of bread, coffee, cheese and wine as well as sustainably raised meat and fish and farmers market produce, while keeping as many current vendors as possible, some of whom have long-term leases. Of the 45 stalls in the market, about 30 are occupied.

The first phase of the renovation is a "deep cleaning" that already has started, taking place at night when the market is closed. Walls, columns and ceilings are being repainted and the floors are being cleaned and polished. This is expected to be completed by the fall, when Shuldiner and West hope to have put a dozen new vendors in place.

Among Shuldiner and West's first ambitions is to remake the Hill Street seating platform by creating "a community market version of a hotel lobby," Shuldiner said, or, "downtown's living room."

"With free Wi-Fi and power outlets, maybe low couches," added West, who said the market hours (now 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) would be extended. "You can get a cheese plate and glass of wine, bring it here and hang out. Have a cup of coffee and a pastry and read the paper in the morning."

The 12,000-square-foot basement will be converted to a "food crafting space," where potential beer brewers, charcuterie makers, cheesemongers and wine purveyors could set up shop. At the center would be an exhibition kitchen for classes, tastings, studio shoots and private dinners.


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Photo: Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles in 2010. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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