NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk developer Joe Grasso had planned to open an indoor flea market in the Wilson Cove area. But after he brought in restaurateur John Palino from New Zealand, his plan evolved into an urban market with shops, dining and a farmers' market.
The SoNo Marketplace, which will open in September, is inspired by markets that Palino has enjoyed in New Zealand, where he hosts the popular television show “The Kitchen Job.”
“It will be a place where you can sit for a few hours, read the paper, have a coffee and if you need something, you can do some shopping,” said Palino, who originally hails from New Jersey. “It will have all the little things people need, all in one place.”
The market will have about 50 vendors including places for brunch, fish-and-chips, artisan meats and cheeses, baked goods, coffee, Italian food, jewelry, a blacksmith, a potter, a masseuse and possibly rock climbing. There will be space outside for a farmers' market, and soon he envisions opening the waterfront area for activities such as kayaking.
The site will also host events such as cooking classes, guest chefs, musicians and seasonal festivals, Palino said. On weekday nights, large family-style Italian feasts will be served, he said.
“We’ll have a long table in here that seats about 60 people, and they’ll all eat together,” he said. “It’ll be a chance for people to join together and have a great time, where everybody shares.”
Grasso has owned the property for 18 years and believes the market will attract tourists. They are planning for a trolley car that could bring people to the market.
“I feel like it’s really going to turn the area around, especially since we’ll also have the SoNo Ice House right across the street,” Grasso said.
Development on the marketplace has been under way for the past six months, and Palino said a big event is planned for the opening. SoNo Marketplace is located at 314 Wilson Ave.