Long awaited opening | Rock Candy

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Long awaited opening

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 1:06 PM

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The wait is over. It took nearly a year from conception to reality, but the Argenta Market is now open on Main Street in North Little Rock. This morning, a good-sized crowd of people anxiously awaited as the official duties were done and the ribbon was cut officially opening the community grocery store.

And it’s time. Since the old Kroger store on Broadway was torn down to make way for (now) Verizon Arena, the Argenta District hasn’t had a grocery store to call its own. They’re getting a good one, though. Jody Hardin has made a commitment to making this operation work.

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Everything about the place speaks to the idea of making sure it’s done right. Every surface is clean, every vegetable is fresh, every case is packed. Up front this morning, quarts of strawberries that were still in the fields yesterday. In the dairy case, milk from Seven Doves Creamery that was still in the cow yesterday. Large tender translucent shrimp are in the seafood case.

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Fresh soft pasta is nearby along with pesto and pasta sauce, take-home dinners and fancy cheese. Fresh pastries from Community Bakery are available up front. A fine selection of what we jokingly refer to as “weeds and seeds” are available in the Beans, Grains and Things section in the back (this section a tribute to the original Green grocery in Little Rock that several changeovers since is now an affiliate of Whole Foods Market).

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The market’s about 95 percent stocked. I kept hearing over and over again from Jody Hardin and from folks in the store like Tom and Neal not to be too worried that they’ve gotten too far away from the idea of a Locavore market. Much of the available vegetation on sale is from around these parts, but other items are organic produce flown in from elsewhere. That’s because frankly it’s still early spring here, despite today’s 80 degree temperatures. Takes time for things to grow.

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with the new market. It’s laid out diagonally, its lines clean and open and easy to navigate. The shelves are stocked not just with Arkansas products but just about any sort of grocery product you might need to pick up on your one-stop-shopping trip. That’s because this market is aimed not just at the organic/Locavore consumer. It’s here to serve the needs of its community, and I think it’s going to do a fine job.

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Mayor Hays has declared today Argenta Market Day. I have people all over poking me and asking me if I’ve been yet. Yes, I have. And I’ll be back, that’s for sure. I want to try out some of the specialty salads in the case in back, give a few of the sandwiches a shot, and take home some duck confit and perhaps some of those yummy looking crawfish noodles I saw. I’ll give it a few days, though, before I pass along that lunch-time verdict you’re waiting for.

And if today wasn’t a good enough reason to go, you need to go back Saturday morning. That’s the soft opening of the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market across the street. It runs seven until noon every Saturday throughout the growing season. To learn more about Argenta Market, CAFM and more, check out the website.

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