BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Need a place to pick up a quick lunch to take to your desk? How about a snack, or groceries for dinner? … Downtown Lafayette is now home to three markets, each with its own personality and niche for the urban shopper.
Bistro Market & Deli
115 N. Fifth St.
If you’re looking for elegance and a European shopping experience downtown, step into Bistro Market & Deli. The former Lahr atrium has been transformed into an upscale, French-themed market, with wares to match. As a bonus, the space was designed to historically honor the former Lahr Hotel — the current layout mirrors the way space was used more than a century ago, with vintage photos in the foyer as evidence.
The bodega has a variety of offerings — everything from a coffee bar with bagels (imported from New York City), fresh local produce, a deli counter, refillable oils and vinegars, and international foods.
The space fills a specific need downtown says Mary Buckley, who, along with her daughters, Theresa and Cheyenne, owns and operates both the market and Bistro 501 next door. Buckley knew that with downtown residency at an all-time high — and with construction looming — the demographic of young urban professionals and empty nesters would welcome a downtown market. So the three went to work to determine how to make such an idea a success.
“There’s a difference between a dream and business,” Buckley says. “What does the area need and what do you know?”
The pandemic interrupted their plans to expand into the atrium, but it also gave them a chance to plan with great intention. They were able to carefully survey the space and look for exactly the right layout, along with finding appropriate furniture and fixtures.
The result is a charmingly customized space, with walls in Cape Cod blue, an elaborate iron entry gate (also locally crafted), and an eclectic feel.
But it’s more than just a market — it’s a place to visit, to relax. There is a seating area upstairs — where hotel guests would have sat a century ago — and down, so patrons may sit and sip their coffee and eat their sandwich or salad, using the WiFi. There is a table to play checkers and an area to read the newspaper.
The vibe is friendly and inviting — even dogs are welcome. Customers can find groceries to cook their own meals, or they can pick up sandwiches or pre-prepared dinner for two. You can find products for a gift box, with fun and quirky items available — everything from toys for children to sauces to charcuterie boards — or even cleaning supplies from the Broom Closet.
The Buckleys have a commitment to excellence and to supporting small business. As a women-owned and operated business, it works with local vendors and with other small businesses.
The market can be a bit overwhelming, Buckley says, as it does not use traditional overhead signage. So, she says, patrons should ask an associate if they need assistance finding anything. Parking can be a challenge, she knows, but if customers park in the city parking garage, the market will refund the parking fee and offers curbside pickup — do your shopping, leave your cart, go get your car, and come back for valet grocery service.
The market is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. every day but Tuesday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are market days, with special sales. And if you don’t see what you want, the market can get it for you in 72 hours.
Buckley says the market’s business is booming, and she is pleased with the role they can play downtown.
“We really took a page from the past and brought it into the present, hoping for a successful future.”
Specialty Food Market & Apothecary
816 Main St.
If you’re shopping downtown with dietary needs, look no further than Rose Market.
Owner Tracy Deno says the first mission of the market was to be a haven for people who need allergen-friendly foods. But it has expanded to also feature items that are non-GMO and organic. It has a large selection of gluten-free foods — for the gluten intolerant crowd, shopping can be difficult, as gluten can be a hidden ingredient in so many foods — even in places that seem unlikely.
Rose Market fills that niche. It offers a wide variety of healthy, tasty foods.
“We try to focus on the ingredients,” Deno says. “We don’t like a lot of junk.”
She even offers gluten-free and vegan donuts, which have been a big hit. (See story on Page 48.) People are surprised to find formerly unsafe foods available to them.
“We’ve had people get emotional,” Deno says.
Rose Market is committed to being environmentally friendly. It offers sustainable cleaning products, which can be refilled. And it is committed to maintaining health without an abundance of chemicals, so the market sells personal care and wellness items that are natural as well.
400 Main St.
Friendly Market, the newest arrival on the downtown scene, is a basic convenience store, offering its patrons quick snacks, drinks and amenities.
The store, at the corner of Fourth and Main, has a full offering of candy, snacks and beverages. If you’re looking to grab a quick drink, this is your stop. It has a full soda fountain as well as canned beverages of all types.
Food offerings are limited, but Friendly Market does have some canned and frozen foods. It also carries an assortment of cleaning items and household necessities.
Coffee is available, as is a space in which to drink it — a small seating area in the front of the store offers newspapers and a view of Main Street. It’s the perfect place to sit, sip coffee and read the news of the day. ★