4th Street Market Food Hall- Santa Ana’s Craft Food Hotspot

I had the pleasure of visiting 4th Street Market Food Hall during its preview at the February 2015 Savor Santa Ana. While there, I enjoyed an assortment of delicious snacks for pre-purchased tickets. At Electric City Butcher I sampled a meat pate atop a cracker, with mustard and pickled cabbage. It was a scrumptious little bite of heaven. From Noodle Tramp we enjoyed a Thai noodle dish that knocked my socks off.

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My favorite was the Pulled Pork & Egg dish sample from KTCHN DTSA, which was so rich, salty and savory, it blew my mind. The dish incorporated toast with their signature KTCHN BBQ sauce, smoked pork, jalapeño aioli slaw, toasted pumpkin seeds, gorgonzola and fried egg. The market has an eclectic selection including gourmet coffee, made-to-order s’mores, burgers, fresh juice, fried chicken, alcoholic beverages and more. The space is friendly, warm and trendy with many opportunities to site down and comfortably enjoy a treat.

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Now open, the dining hall has been continuously busy due to the variety of exciting food and beverage offerings, friendly staff and a charming atmosphere.

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Better Living SoCal was privileged enough to get to ask Ryan Chase, 4th Street Market’s owner/developer, some questions about the fresh, new dining concept and the process of bringing it to fruition.

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4th Street Market features such a great variety of food! How did you curate such a fantastic mix of offerings?

Santa Ana is a great community and we wanted to try and bring unique offerings in a more affordable, relaxed urban setting.  Once we decided to proceed, we already had several people that jumped at the opportunity to be on board with the project, including Chef Jason Quinn from acclaimed Playground Restaurants. We had an amorous amount of interest from chefs, and the culinary world is very tight knit and interconnected, but we eventually hand selected a total of 15 tenants, almost all of them already had ties to Santa Ana and our immediate neighborhood.  Each came to us with very unique ideas and concepts, and with their individual talents and personal touch.  This is not a food court where the owners might only occasionally show up; you will see all of these chefs and owners either in their kitchens cooking or onsite in their businesses on a daily basis.

We also set up a unique and advantageous rental arrangement to address the disconnect between young entrepreneurial food operators and the cost to open a brick and mortar restaurant, by providing the majority of the build out costs, including most of their required equipment.  We also streamlined the operational/business side and we cover almost all operating costs, including common area costs, PR, marketing, hood/grease servicing, dedicated WIFI, porter service, and even an inventory manager to receive, sort, and load inventory into the individual storage spaces of each business.

The atmosphere of the market inspires excitement and comfort at the same time. What thought went into the design of the space to achieve its look and feel?

The overall concept was developed through my travels to food halls and markets throughout the world, as well as input from a variety of great people, including my amazing team. We wanted the market to be a place that would attract all walks of life, and we tried to make it feel like a community hub, where you can grab coffee and breakfast with the kids and sit on the street, do work and have lunch inside in a quiet corner, have dinner and a beer with friends outside in the back alley, or whatever you see fit.  We also incorporated the incubator kitchens, as well as the studio kitchen, into the market and make them visible from both inside and on the street to showcase the culinary process and give our food makers exposure. 4th St Market is not just a food hall, but a culinary center with numerous food maker and artisan opportunities to grow and build their businesses/brands.

We worked with H. Hendy & Associates, who did a tremendous job coming up with the layout, design, and the look and feel of the space.  We worked through approximately twenty floor plan iterations, before arriving at this final choice.  I also incorporated special aspects that fit Santa Ana, including the graffiti/grow wall, Santa Ana historic photos and Santa Ana freeway map and street sign.

Why was the space sought out for the creation of 4th Street Market?

The space was a former swap meet on a prime corner in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana, and always was on the radar for something that would be a bigger attraction and destination.  Space is valuable in all downtown areas, so we tried to pack as much as we could into the limited space we had (which was approximately 16,000 sq/ft), such as converting the back alley (3,500 sq/ft) into a seating area/beer-garden and utilizing the basement as an 8,000 sq/ft dry-cold-freezer storage commissary/delivery center for all our tenants and food makers.

What challenges were overcome when developing the market?

The biggest challenge was timing.  To have all 15 tenants open on day one took an enormous amount of organization, logistics, and a bit of luck.  And as in most projects, especially with this size, scope, and many unknowns, it always takes much more time and costs much more money than we could possibly have anticipated.

How can visitors get the most out of a trip to 4th Street Market?

First off, come hungry, and hopefully with some friends, so you can share items from several of our restaurants. I would also suggest spending some time exploring East End and the downtown Santa Ana area.  There are many other great restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, galleries, cool shops, and endless new places to discover. 

To learn more about 4th Street Market, visit 4thstreetmarket.com or just head straight on over to the place: 201 East 4th Street Santa Ana, CA 92701

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