For years the Las Olas Sunday Market has been a source not only of fresh vegetables, flowers and baked goods, but also the kind of organic neighborliness that the ill-informed stereotype of South Florida has no room for. It created a community, bonded together by local raw honey, that seemed to be a perfect blend of easygoing beachtown bonhomie and the urban sophistication that has driven the farm-to-table locavore movement.
Its location was symbolic: Tucked into a small parking lot just west of the small bridged canal at 12th Street, it stood midway between the quieter, beach end of the Las Olas business district (best known for a haircut, a warm loaf of Gran Forno bread and a cup of coffee at the Floridian until Rocco’s Tacos moved in) and the $15 cocktails, posh boutiques and highrise downtown condos beckoning to the west.
But for all the earnest charm that radiated around that quirky hump on Las Olas each Sunday, the market seemed to be a secret to too many people. Why weren’t there more customers?
This Sunday the “newly expanded and improved” Las Olas Sunday Market will set up shop where the people are: In the shadow of the condos surrounding the plaza in front of YOLO at 333 E. Las Olas Blvd. The “grand re-opening” is at 9 a.m., with Mayor Jack Seiler and other officials cutting a ceremonial ribbon at 10:30 a.m.
More than 30 vendors are confirmed for the event, and the team behind the “relaunch” from YOLO and the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Civic Association are projecting strong expansion over the next two months.
Among the benefits cited for the new location are “proximity to the exceptional downtown population, greater visibility to Las Olas vehicular traffic, and accessibility to thousands of parking spaces.”
Personally, the old location always felt right, but it’s hard to argue with any effort to create a downtown farmer’s market that becomes not only a signature of downtown living, but one that endures.