Imagine a bustling, lively street food market filled with international flavors and aromas. This is MarketShare’s vision for the vacant space currently dwelling inside King Street Station.
MarketShare, a nonprofit organization that aims to support careers for immigrant and refugee food entrepreneurs, was founded in 2014 when Philip Deng realized it's “relatively difficult to break into the food industry here.” A San Francisco native and Seattleite since 2000, Deng’s pilot program with MarketShare included helping two immigrant women, from Kenya and the Philippines, start their own food businesses in Seattle. Now, the organization has its sight set on something bigger: King Street Station.
The concept is straightforward: Transform the second floor of King Street Station into a gathering place for the community to join over international food and culture. Deng says he hopes to recreate the energy and vibe of an Asian street market here in Seattle. The market would be an incubator for immigrant and refugee chef entrepreneurs, allotting two to three years in the market stalls before the vendors are cycled out, which Deng says is the perfect amount of time for a business to test the water.
The purpose of the King Street Market is to give people the tools and foundation to launch and run an independent business back in the community; to prepare, not coddle them. During their incubation time at the market, vendors will be provided tools in culinary training, language services, real estate development, and more. Rather than reinventing these resources, MarketShare will act as the coordinator in the middle, bringing other nonprofits in with expertise to guide the vendors.
The King Street Market has been a three-and-a-half-year project in the making, and is breaking ground with its fundraiser, Summerfeast, on August 24. The event will start with a cocktail hour, and an international menu will come by way of local, immigrant chefs—think: empanadas, dan dan noodles, dolmas, dumplings—a peek at what the market could serve. Then, dig into dinner by Terra Plata chef/owner (and all-around badass) Tamara Murphy.
“Food was always helping me cross cultures, learn new languages, and kind of work my way into the community,” said Deng. MarketShare, it seems, aims to do just that.
Thu, Aug 24, King Street Station, 401 S Jackson St, $75
This article was updated on August 23 to correctly state that MarketShare's pilot program fellows were from Kenya and the Philippines, not Kenya and Somalia, as previously stated.