MADISON, Wis. — The Madison City Council will meet Tuesday, Oct. 17 to decide whether to allocate more money for the creation of a Madison Public Market.
This comes after the lowest construction bid came in more than a million dollars over budget.
Luis Aguilar is the co-owner of a popular food truck called Caracas Empanadas y Mas.
“I’ve always been into the culinary business, or the culinary world,” he said. “My father was a great cook at home, and I always was inspired by food.”
Aguilar is from El Salvador, but now calls the Madison area home. He and his brother took ownership of the Caracas Empanadas y Mas food truck last December. They’re among a handful of local vendors already approved to operate inside the Madison Public Market if it comes to fruition.
“It feels so amazing to know we will have a place where people can find us, not only after the hours that we close but also on the weekends, too,” he said.
James Shulkin is on the board of the Madison Public Market Foundation, which has been working for more than a decade to bring the highly anticipated, but long-delayed project to life.
The plan is to transform a city-owned building on the east side, that used to house Madison’s fleet vehicles, into the public market.
“We believe that this area is really prime for growth, lots of opportunity,” Shulkin said. “It’s growing already by leaps and bounds in terms of the amount of people that are living in this area. There are a lot of neighborhoods close by.”
The market would include at least 30 diverse food vendors, an event space and an area for small business owners like Aguilar to develop their products and ship them to a larger audience.
“We will invite women and small business owners, people of color who trying to start up a new business, first-generation immigrants also trying to start up new food related businesses,” Shulkin said. “This is a place where they can get that business up and running.”
Aguilar has already learned from owning a food truck that growth comes from investing in something you believe in and making it happen. He hopes that holds true for the public market.
“The support we have, we’re excited and I couldn’t be more grateful for that honestly,” Aguilar said.
As Aguilar and project organizers wait, they continue their work with a belief that the public market will happen.
Creating the Madison Public market comes with a price tag of nearly $20 million dollars. According to the Madison Public Market Foundation, that money is coming from private donations, foundation fundraisers, a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, tax assistance and Dane County.