One of my favorite spots to eat when I visit Toronto is not along trendy King Street West or the St Lawrence Market neighborhood, but at Market 707 along Dundas Street. An initiative of the Scadding Court Community Centre, Market 707 has been operational for approximately 5 years now.
A “food pod” of sorts, the street food and retail market is housed entirely in retrofitted shipping containers that have been placed in front of the community centre. The 10 individual containers provide affordable space for entrepreneurs who do not have the financial capacity to open a full-scale brick-and-mortar restaurant. A wide-range of ethnic choices are available at Market 707, from French to Filipino to Atlantic Canadian. Having tried most of the them while I lived in Toronto several years back, I commit to visiting Market 707 every time I am back in town. (If you only have the appetite for one vendor, I recommend the crepes and poutine at NomNomNom).
Market 707 has also played a big part of revitalizing a tired part of Dundas Street West, where there has been limited foot traffic and commercial streetfront presence. Market 707 has been able to create a very important pedestrian link between the Dundas St and Bathurst St node, and the ever-popular Kensington Market which is only a few blocks east. As the market has grown, new non-food vendors have also been added into the mix, such as jewelry, fashion, and a bike-repair shop. Thinking outside the box (pun intended) has allowed Scadding Court to create a vibrant community hub in an area that was very underutilized.
More information from the Scadding Court website:
In response to community feedback, a desire for broadened local employment opportunities and an emerging redevelopment vision, SCCC developed an outdoor market along the Centre’s Dundas Street frontage. Attractive, colourful salvaged shipping containers retrofitted by Storstac now form the basis of a vibrant outdoor neighbourhood market that uses business and community economic development to animate the streetscape, link the surrounding neighbourhoods, generate jobs and revitalize an underutilized area of the City. Market 707 is ideal to start up your business, located in the up and coming Dundas Street West neighbourhood, between Kensington Market, Queen Street West and Chinatown.
If Market 707 and the famous food pods of Portland are the originals, the next generation of shipping container culinary oriented developments is beginning to hit the scene. Detroit Shipping Co. is in the process of breaking ground on a food hall made almost entirely of retrofitted shipping containers. It is planned to have five eateries, beer garden, two bars, galleries, pop-up stores, and a live-music space. Food, art, and music seem to be hugely popular themes that are being placed together to create unique one-of-a-kind developments throughout North America.
The architectural renderings look great, and because the entire development is modular, construction is planned to last only 3 to 4 months which is of course much less than a typical development. All operators are planned to be local entrepreneurs. I’ll make sure to provide updates once the project is complete, which is expected to be late in the fall if everything goes according to plan.