flagship city food court

On Monday, the Erie Downtown Development Corp., which bought the property along North Park Row and State Street in September 2018, opened the doors to what it hopes will be a different sort of gathering spot, the Flagship City Food Hall.

But the EDDC — a business-backed organization launched in 2017 to purchase, renovate and repurpose real estate in downtown Erie — had been keeping its eyes on the property for a while.

Even before John Persinger was named the group’s CEO in March of that year, the board had been negotiating to buy Sherlock’s and the other buildings from Thomas “Tippy” Dworzanski, Persinger said.

Renovating the upper two floors of the buildings for use as apartments was a given. Plans for the ground floor weren’t as clear.

“We wanted this to be a community space,” Persinger said. “We talked about what brings the community together. What reaches across the rural-city divide? What can cut across racial and socioeconomic differences?

“We kept coming back to food,” he said.

The vendors

A Taste of Love:Catering business provides soulful Southern cuisine toErie’s Flagship City Food Hall

Blue Willow Bakery & Café:Restaurant focuses on making, breaking bread at food hall

Dina’s Authentic Dominican:Restaurant leans on culture for Erie’s Flagship City Food Hall fare

Lucky Louie’s:Well-known joint to serve up its unique take on hot dogs, burgers at food hall

NoodleLove:Asian American comfort food comes to Erie’s food hall

Perry’s Tavern:Pizza parlor, bar sets up shop at Erie’s Flagship City Food Hall

Shawarma Station:Tasty Middle Eastern food truck items and more set for food hall

Straw Hat Ice Cream:Shop shakes things up with dairy sweets at Erie food hall

Taste & See Fruit and Veggie Bar:Business promotes healthy choices at Erie’s Flagship City Food Hall

Part of a bigger plan

Another five months passed before the EDDC announced its plans in March 2019, not just for the Sherlock’s space, but for all eight parcels.

The EDDC described its plan for a $30 million culinary arts district that included both the fresh food market, apartments on the upper levels and the food hall that opens Monday.

Persinger lays no special claim to the concept.

“Food halls are not a novel idea,” he said. “We have been to food halls in Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Denver and Salt Lake City.”

The difference, though, is that this food hall, including nine food vendors and a bar, would be about Erie.

Related coverage:Beer, wieners, tacos, shawarma, desserts: Erie’s Flagship Food Hall announces vendors

This would not be another food court. No floppy slices of pizza made by the same restaurant chain that sells them on the highway. No buttery pretzels alleged to have been made by someone’s aunt.

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