Bedford Avenue has effectively become an epicurean strip mall, offering artisanal cheese, handcrafted pickles, and piously produced chocolate to Williamsburg’s carefully disheveled denizens. But for all of its gastronomically correct specialty shops and health food stores, Bedford Avenue has lacked a grocery store dedicated primarily to homemade prepared foods. And that’s where Amy Marks and Laura Migliozzi come in.
Sometime in the spring, Marks and Migliozzi are planning to open Radish, a store offering what Marks describes as “seasonal prepared foods” made with ingredients purchased largely from local farms and purveyors.
Radish, which will be located in the storefront previously occupied by Penny Licks bakery, will have a kitchen where a full-time chef will prepare a menu of cold foods like salads and sandwiches, as well as hot foods that will be available at the store’s heated counter. “It’s going to be seasonal food from around the world,” says Marks. “Foods around the world are really about ingredients — we’re going to make simple, fresh homemade foods that balance between family classics and homemade favorites.” She adds that the dishes will be driven almost entirely [by] what’s available locally.”
Marks and Migliozzi are still finalizing what sort of dry goods they’ll carry, but know that they want to focus specifically on “homemade items.” They also plan to sell fresh produce, as well as bread made both in-house and by “purveyors that people know well,” and housemade sodas.
Both Marks nor Migliozzi are corporate refugees: Migliozzi, who has a degree in food science, worked for a small technology start-up, while Marks was a project manager for a design and innovation firm. The idea for Radish “was one of those things that started on a cocktail napkin,” says Marks, adding that Marlow & Sons “has really inspired us.”
Marks feels that Williamsburg, where she’s lived for four years, is a “match made in heaven” for a store like Radish: “Because of the condo boom, there’s such a flux of people moving here from the city. There’s so much room for good food in this neighborhood,” she says. “I think that having specialty food stores on every block would be fantastic. People want good food and variety and there’s room for a lot more.”
Specifically, she feels there’s “a big market in Williamsburg for prepared foods,” regardless of the salads and sandwiches carried by the health food stores that punctuate Bedford Avenue. “You can tell they’re old,” she says. “They look like they’ve been sitting around, and are probably made in some kitchen in Long Island. That sort of prepared food doesn’t look appealing to me at all; it just doesn’t work for us. It’s important to us that food is fresh and made on-site. People,” Marks adds, echoing the oft-repeated mantra of the farmers’ market faithful, “should know where their food is coming from.”