The plan for now is that Jill and Keith Forrester of Whitton Farms will be on the farm by day and inside the Trolley Stop Market by night, making sure things run smoothly. The idea is to operate a year-round market for local farmers and artisans as well as a restaurant that uses those local foods in the dishes. Everything local and in season will get top billing in their bins and on their plates.
"We want to be a destination," says Sharron Johnson of the market on Madison, nestled between Orleans and Manassas. This shouldn't be a problem, as the new combination market/restaurant/locavore Mecca is located on the Madison Avenue trolley line and is closer for downtown diners than a drive to Midtown.
You may recognize Johnson as the co-owner of Buns on the Run, the beloved breakfast spot in Cooper-Young that closed a few years ago. After a year and a half in retirement, Johnson stumbled upon the Trolley Stop Market on Facebook and submitted her resume. Now she'll be a chef in the market's restaurant.
"I'll be serving all the traditional breakfast items [from Buns on the Run]. Quiches, crepes, biscuits and gravy — as well as new things like breakfast burritos and breakfast pizzas," Johnson says. "Oh, and the 'Holy Grail of hashbrowns.' Someone once called them that."
The Trolley Stop Market is set up with a restaurant in front, fresh produce bins in the middle, meat and cheese coolers on one side, a flower shop and craft boutique on the other, and live plants on a stage against the back wall. ("Every square inch will be filled with something," says Jeremy Denno, bar and kitchen manager.) The stage will double as a venue for live music in the evenings, and the vegetable bins are on casters to make room for more seating. The market also has a deck behind the building and plans to have cafe tables in the front for plenty of outdoor seating.
The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch every day and smoothies, coffee, and beer at the bar. Dishes like chicken and "slicks" (dumplings), meatloaf, and hearty burgers with Neola Farms beef will make up the plate-lunch portion of the menu, with other sandwiches and soups (in handmade sourdough bread bowls) offering lighter fare. All the sandwiches will be made with bread by Johnson or Shoaf's Loaf, and every meal will be made from scratch. Johnson plans on doing large-pan desserts (like cobbler and bread pudding) and cheesecake. And there will be pizza. Denno says they have a 60-quart dough mixer and large stone pizza ovens, where they will prepare the hand-tossed crusts and pile on toppings that will change with the seasons.
A casual, kid-friendly spot, Trolley Stop Market has a genuine farm feel, with corrugated metal lining the bar and a hand-painted sign. It also has trolley tracks painted on the floor and the work of local artists and artisans on the walls.
The Forresters hope to open the market the first week in June, with breakfast and lunch prices starting at around $6.50. The market also will have up to 70 local vendors participating. Expect to see familiar products like Peace Bee honey, Neola Farms beef, Mama D's Italian Ice, OC Vegan Foods, Makeda's cookies, Jones Orchard, McCarter's Coffee, and other vendors with farm eggs, cheeses, meats, and produce.
Trolley Stop Market, 704 Madison (526-1361)