If nonprofit MarketShare has its way, the currently-empty second level of King Street Station will soon house an international street food market.
MarketShare, which works with members of Seattle's refugee and immigrant communities to create food businesses, completed a pilot program last year that involved launching new mobile food stalls for aspiring business owners. The organization worked with Rosario "Chato" Carver from the Philippines and Jackie Nkirote from Kenya among its 37 applicants from various countries.
With the pilot program complete, MarketShare learned that while the food was a huge hit, "mobile food stands are still too expensive and too inefficient to run for most low-income immigrants and refugees," says Philip Deng, MarketShare's executive director. "It basically confirmed to us that a permanent market model is the solution we need to allow these would-be entrepreneurs to have an opportunity in the culinary industry."
MarketShare is eyeing King Street Station, home to Amtrak, as a possible home for a permanent international street food market that would significantly reduce start-up costs and allow more entrepreneurs the opportunity to set up shop.
The organization has pitched the idea to the city and is currently collecting signatures to generate a grassroots support base for the concept; you can learn more about the project and sign the petition online.
"We believe it meets the economic and social objectives laid out by the City itself, and our aim is to be ready when the time comes for the City to issue an request for proposals to have a concept that has been thoroughly vetted by the public, a sound business plan, detailed financial projections, architectural designs, letters of support from many immigrant and refugee community leaders, and thousands of petition signatures from folks in Seattle who would eat at this market if it were built," Deng says.