Talk about a recipe for success! The new pop-up, The Strollway Market, which opened last month in the Harold’s downtown location, is a collaboration from several very accomplished pros on Columbia’s cuisine scene: Michael Urban and Melissa Poelling, co-owners of Harold’s Doughnuts, and Ben Hamrah and Amanda Elliott, co-owners of Beet Box. Although all involved are known for differing styles of food, they have a common denominator: “We love our town” Hamrah says. “We’re also all businesspeople, family people, cooks and entrepreneurs. Functionally, Michael is a clearly established and successful businessperson, Melissa is an assassin in the kitchen with an affinity for baked goodies, Amanda and I build flavors with global inspiration and hyper local influence and love bringing new brands to life.”
Rounding out the team is Head Chef Casey Callans, who worked at both Café Berlin and Nourish. “We plan to work hand-in-hand with Casey on inspiration,” Hamrah says, “and just plain having fun, and we’re very excited to see what they have in store!”
The Market will not be a doughnut shop and will not be Middle Eastern. Hamrah says, “It will be a look and style of its own. But it will be operated by a group of friends with the common goal of representing the core values that we all believe in.”
Adds Urban, “The community and loving your craft have always been the most important values at the core of anything Harold’s does, so we knew we had to stay true to that.”
The collaboration is something they were all eager to do, according to Poelling. “As cooks and business people, we dream about opportunities to work with the friends you love and respect!”
The idea came up when Elliott and Poelling were working together on a doughnut collaboration. Since Harold’s downtown location moved its production to its south location last year, the downtown spot has had more free time. The two met with the others involved and they decided to start a brand-new business.
All agreed that a large void existed where locally sourced and scratch-made soups, sandwiches and salads are concerned. “This is where things started to take shape,” Hamrah says. “We are all fans of the classics and feel that our historic little downtown would perfectly fit a classic little market right at its heart. Historically, that area is considered the ‘Strollway District,’ so the name fell right into place. And here we are now, a new collaboration and a new chapter for a family business that has become a staple in our community.”
Some would question the wisdom of opening at this time. But that’s precisely why The Strollway Market came to be. “This pandemic has completely changed the restaurant industry forever,” Hamrah says.” We were all blindsided and all tightened our ranks and settled in to weather the storm. Now here we are almost a year-in and we have to start looking at what the future will look like. People still need to eat, farmers still need to grow, and people still need to work. We’re just structuring ourselves in a way that we never could have before. We know what we’re dealing with now.”
Which is why for now, The Market is offering contactless pick-up and curbside only. No use of any big food delivery apps is planned.
The menu includes one sweet and one savory breakfast sandwich daily, as well as an assortment of monthly rotating soups, salads and sandwiches. “We will also have daily specials in each of those categories,” Elliott says. “We love social media and plan to use it and email to keep our customers up to speed on everything we’re doing each day. We will have staples but we’re not ready to commit to them yet. We plan to let our new customers decide what stays and what rotates.”
There will always be a vegan option, and not just a “vegan” option, Poelling says. “We source what we consider to be the best produce available and therefore it would almost be lazy of us not to make them the stars. We will also have plenty of gluten free options. We are also VERY excited to show off what we consider to be an absolutely incredible gluten-free bread.”
The Strollway Market is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Definitely worth taking a stroll to check it out.