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Midtown Global Market....Great..but could be Amazing.

Is it just me, or is there still something missing from MGM? I love some of the vendors there (Salty Tart, Sonora, Left Handed Cook, Mannys..etc) but it seems like the ownership has yet to realize how close to awesome this place could be.

The website has not been updated in years. It has been down the past few days. They host some events, but could do a much better job reaching out to other communities. They do Sunday brunch, but its hard to find out who is doing it or if its still even going on. The layout, well in my mind can find some places harder to find than others.

This place could be....well the best "food court" in America if it woke up from its slumber a little. Am I the only one? Its great, but I expect a little more out of it. I love the free parking and ethnic options (granted I do think Holy Land is WAY overrated) but I always feel its a few steps from being really popular rather than pretty popular.

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  1. You are not the only one. There are a few problems. First the hours. The whole building closes at 9 pm, which is ridiculous. Second, the building itself: It has this cold, industrial feel to it. A market like this should have a warm, cozy feel to it. Third, the food vendors: way too many Mexican places. The MGM needs more variety: maybe an Indian restaurant, Japanese noodle house, Korean food, NY-style pizza, hot dog stand, etc. Another great idea would be a small brewery. Honestly, if it weren't for Safari Express, I wouldn't even come here.

    And finally, and I know I will get a lot of heat about this: The neighborhood. Yeah, I know it isn't that bad, and much improved since the 1990's, but the Chicago-Lake intersection always had a reputation as a seedy area, and even with the improvements, this will prevent a lot of people from coming into this neighborhood (in particular those from the suburbs.) I have a feeling that if the MGM were located in Uptown or in the University/Central Ave area, it would be packed constantly.

    My 2 cents. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeff55432

      jeff55432 - So I'll draw a comparison of MGM to another market - Reading Terminal Markt in Philly.

      1) Hours - Reading Terminal closes at 6 PM.
      2) Building - Old railway station. It's a giant space. Bigger than MGM. And colder.
      3) Vendors - Huge diversity - Amish to Indian, Italian and fish vendors. To be honest, it's not much different in variety than MGM.

      It is different, IMO, in quality though. People go to Reading for their quality shopping. Not just eats. But meats and groceries included. That's the difference Ditto with Phillie's Italian market. You go there to score good quality/and/or/good price ingredients and meats. Along the way, you score great value breakfast/brunch/lunch/snack.

      That combination isn't available here. If MGM was a destination for both great meat/cheese/etc deals, + lunch, it would be a gold mine. Right now, MGM has great value for eats, but not for shopping.

      The free parking is great. The neighborhood is fine. I just don't see it as a destination when I need to do shopping. I saw Reading Terminal as the place where I scoped out my chicken, cheese, and fish, got an awesome lunch, then went back for said meats and a bread.

      1. re: jeff55432

        I have had some amazing food there...I just wish more people knew about it...they marketed what they have better regardless of funding (many non profits or start ups do it...why can't they)...and that it was layed out a little better. Also I do agree with a previous post that cleanliness can be a problem in the common table areas. I don't want a great meal ruined by a sticky table.

      2. As I understand it MGM is run by an offshoot of either a neighborhood business association or a neighborhood development association, neither of which has a lot of money to spend. This organization has done a lot so far with little money.

        Could this effort benefit from better marketing? Hell YES. I am always amazed at how few people have any idea of the great food inside and the awesome vendors in the market. If you consider yourself a foodie but have not taken a class from a top chef at Kitchen in the Market, take a look in the mirror without your rose colored glasses.

        While MGM is not filled with the right balance of cuisines right now I can at least say that the food vendors there are not putting out "average" food. They are putting out great food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bkmnus

          I agree that MGM needs better marketing and maybe the addition of some more non-restaurant vendors. I'm thinking something more like the Hmong Marketplace in St. Paul (another destination market with a less-than-beautiful building), but maybe keep the number of non-food vendors to a smaller percentage than HM.

          I'm in no position to do this, not being in the field or anything, but I think publicizing/marketing MGM could make a great cooperative project on a continuing basis with some college interns. Hook up with the U or St. Thomas or such and get the word out.

          Maybe get the word out about the neighborhood, too. it scares people operating on old information.

        2. I had been to MGM a few times after it opened but was never impressed until an old friend invited us out for the Friday night kid-friendly music. That's now got us going, my in-laws, and we are bringing a new couple with us tomorrow night. Unless something drastically changes, word of mouth is going to be the strongest marketing MGM will generate.

          The food is pretty good at most places, and while there are more mexican restaurants than anything else, it is in an area with a large hispanic community. It's tough for a market to ignore it's closest audience in hopes of bringing in a few more people from the suburbs. It's a fine line they have to walk to maintain an appropriate balance.

          1. I often close my eyes and pretend MGM is a Hawker Stall.

            1 Reply
            1. re: EricShawnSmith

              Love that idea! Maybe they could help the illusion along with an appropriate noodle/satay place.

            2. They’ve now opened up the central seating area making the whole place feel more expansive and less chaotic.

              1. Warning: Sweeping generalizations ahead....

                The Mexican restaurants in MGM are not there for Mexican customers. If you want to see many of the very same vendors (Manny's Tortas, Las Lomas Tamales to name two) serving actual Mexican customers, go east on Lake to Bloomington and dive into Mercado Central. It's on the southwest corner of Lake & Bloomington.

                MGM is designed for...Alina office workers and foodies (yuppies?). While Mercado Central is for not so wealthy people. Mercado Central is sited to succeed. MGM is sited to struggle.

                5 Replies
                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                  Fishing season doesn't start for another couple of months, JimG.

                  1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                    I just went to the website and it gave me a malicious warning...aka potentially hazardous site. Interesting.

                    1. re: brlattim

                      A bunch of sites all over the Web carry content from a marketing site that was hacked with malware. Some security Web sites that look for that kind of thing have marked those sites in such a way that many browsers will display that warning. If the site providers are up on things, that should have been cleared up. But it does take the monitoring Web sites some time to verify that the malware is gone and to remove the warning.

                      1. re: brlattim

                        No problem now.

                        1. re: ibew292

                          I think the poster is talking about Mercado Central's website - not Midtown Global Market.

                    2. This is a reply to everyone I guess. MGM is doing the best they can considering they don't have a huge budget.

                      Closing at 9 is fine. It's a market place not an entertainment complex.

                      The majority of customers are Hispanic which is why there are a larger number of Latino restaurants.

                      As far as the neighborhood goes, it is lower income than say, most suburbs, but it's not sleazy, and anyone who is apprehensive about coming should just stay away. I know that what you mean is there aren't enough White People around to keep you comfortable.

                      I've eaten at just about every place there and most of them are quite good, with just a couple of exceptions. Yes, Holy Land isn't all that great. A bit bland if you ask me. Pham's is adequate but it's not much different than your MN chow mein house. Stick to Eat Street for the better Vietnamese.

                      Overall it's great to have the market there. It fits well in the neighborhood and I'm glad it has survived, even though management is now having more serious financial problems.

                      1. Cocktails. Beer and wine. A drink! Hugely missing component. Now, with the Rabbit Hole, that is a different story.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shanemio

                          Salsa a la Salsa has always had a full bar.

                        2. Maybe a traditional Indian food place...