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Downtown Allentown Market Holds Long-Awaited Opening

By Colin McEvoy on September 23, 2019

The 12,000 square-foot Downtown Allentown Market has opened in the city’s ArtsWalk. (photo courtesy City Center Allentown)

The highly-anticipated Downtown Allentown Market finally opened this month, and the Lehigh Valley’s new culinary destination is generating such excitement that even celebrity chef Robert Irvine wanted to get in on it.

“Allentown has become an increasingly popular destination for dining and we’re excited to bring our unique fresh-meets-fun concept to the Downtown Allentown Market,” said Irvine, whose Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine is one of nearly a dozen new restaurants at the market.

Located in a 12,000 square-foot space on the city’s ArtsWalk, the Downtown Allentown Market includes nine bays for local and regional food merchants offering high-quality, fast-casual food and drink.

Merchants include Tavola, a start-up artisan pizza and signature pasta concept; Boardroom Spirits, a family-owned craft distillery; Doughnut Love; Batch Microcreamery; and Little Miss Korea, an authentic Korean bowl concept with a one-year-old location in the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market.

Downtown Allentown Market was established by City Center Allentown, a major mixed-use development that is helping transform downtown Allentown into one of America’s most vibrant urban communities and a regional center of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living.

“City Center regularly surveys its residential and office tenants about what they’d like to experience in downtown Allentown, and an authentic, local food hall always topped their wish list,” said Natalia Stezenko, Retail Leasing and Activation Mange with City Center Allentown.

“We listened and are thrilled to have nine great restaurants in one location,” Stezenko said. “Our soft opening weekend has been a success and the community has been giving the Downtown Allentown Market great reviews.”

Located next to Queen City BBQ, several of the Downtown Allentown Market’s restaurants were established by familiar faces from the Lehigh Valley’s restaurant scene.

Shinsen, a sushi/poke bowl concept, was created by the owners of Bethlehem’s Asian Bistros II. Zahara, which serves Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food, was established by the family behind the Aladdin Restaurant in Allentown.

And Licensed 2 Grill @ The Market, a Southern diner concept serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the newly-opened market, comes from the couple behind the Emmaus location and popular Lehigh Valley food truck.

Groundswell Design Group and Cana Development were hired to create the Downtown Allentown Market. They were two of the firms behind the launch of The Bourse, a Philadelphia artisanal food hall features an internationally-inspired collection of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

At Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine, high-quality dishes are produced in full view of customers at counter seating, along with a full-service bartender. Irvine is best known for hosting Food Network programs like Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America.

The market features ample indoor seating and flexible space for events, programming, and pop-up shops. Weekly entertainment includes live music, happy hours, game nights, NFL Sundays and Downtown Playdates with activities for kids. Large-scale windows connect seamlessly to outdoor seating along the ArtsWalk, and murals by regional artists bring unique local flavor to the walls.

“The Downtown Allentown Market is a tremendous addition,” said Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell. “In one day we picked-up nine new places to go. The opening has been met with great enthusiasm by residents and downtown employees.”

City Center has invested $588 million in downtown Allentown, with another $100 million under development and $310 million in the planning stages, according to City Center Allentown spokesman Jeff Vaughan.

With Allentown’s new arena PPL Center at its core, City Center includes more than 1.8 million square feet among five Class A office towers, the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, six residential communities, upscale retail and restaurant space, and the Velocity coworking space.

Customers can sign up for the Downtown Allentown Market newsletter and learn more at the market’s website, and follow the project on Facebook and Instagram, where posts about the market have used the hashtag #DAMThatsTasty.

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