A mainstay of the Meadville Market House experience for the past decade is being replaced: The Market House Grille, closed since early in the pandemic, will not reopen.
The Market Authority, the seven-member board that oversees the Market House, voted Wednesday to lease the building’s restaurant space to a new venture being launched by the owners of Kettle Lake Kitchen at Conneaut Lake.
Kettle Lake owners Jenna Williams and Nick Hasselback plan to open the as-yet unnamed restaurant with curbside service in February, according to Devon Stout, who chairs the Market Authority board.
“We are excited about how Nick and Jenna’s restaurant concept fits into the mission of the Market House to support local producers,” Stout said. “We are making great changes to the interior of the Market House and this new business will support and complement our efforts to improve our customers’ experience as we move into our 151st year.”
The new restaurant will focus on fresh, made-from-scratch food from both international and American cuisines, according to Stout, who is also The Meadville Tribune's director of audience development.
The Market Authority received three proposals for use of the restaurant space in conjunction with an ongoing redesign of the Market House’s ground-floor space — the winning proposal from Williams and Hasselback, a proposal to continue operating the Market House Grille from owner Cindy Thompson, and a proposal from Zest Kitchen and Pantry, which currently operates from the kitchen space in the Market House. The board voted 5-1 in favor of going with Williams and Hasselback’s proposal. Board member Lois Curtin opposed the change and board member Kerstin Ams abstained due to a conflict of interest, according to Stout.
Thompson had hoped to reopen the grill that has occupied the Market House’s restaurant space for 10 years. The grill has remained closed since March 19 after a brief experiment with take-out service proved infeasible.
“I’m gobsmacked,” she said shortly after learning of the board’s vote. “I’m not going to be able to say goodbye to some really good customers.”
Thompson was uncertain regarding whether there would be a future for the Market House Grille at a location other than the Market House.
“I don’t know how I would open somewhere else,” she said. “I am very sad and I will miss all of my customers. I hope in the future to maybe be of service to them in some other way.”
Stout said the board members were appreciative of Thompson’s tenure at the Market House.
“Making big changes is always a difficult process,” he said, “and we wish Cindy all the best in her future endeavors.”
Thompson’s lease on the space had been subject to month-to-month renewal since expiring in October, according to Stout. Details of a lease with the incoming tenant were expected to be finalized in the next week or two, he added, and input from Williams and Hasselback would be sought regarding how the restaurant will fit in with the redesign of the ground floor. Whether the redesign will impact the size of the restaurant has not been determined.
In addition to Kettle Lake Kitchen, Williams, a Crawford County native, and Hasselback both previously worked at Lago Winery and Mortals Key Brewing Company near Jamestown and said they are excited about the new venture at the Market House.
“The Market House location allows us to expand our menu and become a more (conveniently located) venue for many of our existing customers, while simultaneously reaching new audiences,” Williams said in the proposal approved by the Market Authority board.
Once the progress of the pandemic allows full operation, she added, “We envision offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as select prepared food options for sale in the Market House.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.