Bolsa Mercado will be shuttering when its lease runs out in August. This means no more Reuben sandwiches or brisket tacos and coffee for those who used them as daily fodder, or hummus and vegetables and bottles of Texas wine grabbed in a hurry when nothing else is open. When Bolsa Mercado closes in little over a month, it may be replaced by a business that anchors the neighborhood, but I fear we’ll lose something precious.
It’s what any neighborhood loses when a spot like this disappears, especially as we’re invaded by over-“concepted” places. That is, a spot that doesn’t force an idea, but simply allows itself—and you—to be.
“In the beginning, that was kind of what Bolsa was going to be: a market,” says co-owner Chris Jeffers. But Bolsa turned itself into a restaurant, almost despite its owners’ intentions. (“A place just tells you what it’s going to be whether you like it or not,” he says.) When the building that currently houses Bolsa Mercado became available a few blocks away, Jeffers and his partners thought they’d try the equation in the new, immense, 4,000 square-foot space.
And with the same fluidity, Bolsa Mercado became what it is, through several iterations.
“It really became more of a hang-out place,” says Jeffers. I remember when the shop was filled with a labyrinth of shelves holding local items; when bread was dropped off in bins where there are now communal tables. Over the years they’ve pushed back the shelves, made room for mingling, added the armchairs that make a sunny morning by the windows wonderful; the coffee bar; the board of sandwiches that includes the Reuben I will sorely miss.
People office out of Bolsa Mercado; the folks at Common Desk grab salads and hummus, jaywalking across Davis. Weekend mornings are full of breakfast taco orders and neighborly greetings.
Perhaps what we need is a communal message board for when the inevitable dispersal happens:
To the girl in the corner who is always reading poetry.
To the couple with the baby who come for the stack of Sunday pancakes.
Let’s get coffee.
Bolsa Mercado will still continue catering off-site. I hope that whatever replaces the sometime-market, sometime-coffee-shop-deli will not be taken off a shelf and out of a box and concepted to death. Meanwhile, we have a month a to pretend it’s never going away.
“We had a great time doing it,” says Jeffers.