When the eagerly anticipated shopping and residential monolith, City Point, finally opens this spring, it will house one of the biggest food halls—the basement level Dekalb Market Hall—(35,000-square feet!) in all of NYC. And you have Brooklyn native, Anna Castellani, to thank for stocking the expansive space with truly home-grown eats. Rather than drawing from the same old crew of familiar market faces, she’s sought out vendors with borough-specific footprints, from Hard Times Sundaes to Lioni Italian Heroes to Fletcher’s BBQ. And to maintain the integrity of DeKalb’s owner-operated aesthetic, Castellani’s inserted a specific clause in their contracts—terminating residency should they get purchased by corporations.
How did you become involved in your line of work?
My food career began in 2000 when I opened an art supply store in a sleepy DUMBO, and added food as needed. It started with an espresso machine, and shortly after, the supply store became a restaurant called The General Store. In 2005 I opened my first Foragers Market in DUMBO, and another in Chelsea in 2012, along with a wine shop and restaurant. Foragers has always been about a love of good food, quality sourcing, curation, and relationships, much like DeKalb.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliff’s Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
I am now deeply involved in the food business on many different levels, from running my restaurant, to retailing wine and spirits, and now the development of DeKalb Market, which will be one of the largest food halls in New York City. My interest is in increasing the sustainable food supply chain to New Yorkers, providing good jobs for hundreds of people, and ensuring that creative small businesses stay in New York and make people feel happy and connected through food.
How did you go about curating food vendors for DeKalb Market Hall?
Word of mouth. I looked for passionate, primarily Brooklyn business owners that talked more about food than money. As Brooklyn becomes more expensive, I wanted the hall to preserve some of the entrepreneurial and culinary spirit that it is known for.
How do you see DeKalb Market Hall changing Brooklyn’s cultural landscape?
DeKalb Market Hall will be a destination for New Yorkers and tourists who genuinely LOVE to eat and want to experience what Brooklyn has to offer.
Who would you nominate for this list?
Bernardo Siciliano has an international career painting Brooklyn landscapes and people for twenty years. He has an immigrant’s love of the place, which he has made a central theme of his work.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.