Walked into Ripka’s Market in the Arcade building shortly after noon on Monday. The few workers that remained were breaking down machinery and shelves. A worker inside said the place was closed … for good. It was Downtown’s lone market.
This was posted on Ripka’s Facebook page.
Good Afternoon Facebook Fans
It is with great sadness that we announcing the closing of our Bridgeport location. We like to thank you all for your support.
It was hoped housing units at Bijou Square, 881 The Lofts, City Trust Building, 333 State Street, Read’s Art Space, and other locations, as well as Downtown’s workforce, provided a foundation of support for the market. For the grand opening in June, owner Clyde Ripka met dozens of those Downtown residents introducing them to a 7,500-square-foot market featuring a bakery, butchery, produce, seafood, wine bar and a café. Guests munched on delicious samplings from the market. If first impressions counted, the market screamed inviting–-clean, impressive in presentation and the variety of grocery options available.
In the months that followed many Downtown residents said some prices were too high, perhaps too upscale for neighborhood tastes and interests. The quality appeared to decline in recent weeks.
Ripka’s had relied largely on word of mouth and Facebook to spread interest. Downtown, along with the East End, is now a food desert.
This closing comes on the heels of Staples announcing closure of its North End store.
Comment from Nancy Hadley, city’s former development director and Downtown resident:
I have lived in City Trust since 2007. I frequented Ripka’s several times a week. I did not have the same experience that Mustang Sally did … ever [Editor’s note: see comments]. I was the first to move into City Trust. Back then the market was promised, and promised, and promised. Finally through State assistance, the tenant fit-out dollars and environmental remediation, financing finally arrived so the market could be financeable. At the same time, several hundred units of additional residential housing was promised to increase the foot traffic.
The way I look at it, the state assistance brought the market into being two years in advance of the incoming residential market. Solution? A Call To Arms by the downtown developers, city, state and Community Capital to see what can be done. Nothing is over until it’s over. Ripka has the liquor license, the approvals, and the heart and experience to continue the crusade. I also think the RBS and Peoples Bank Building should close their cafeteria and send all of those employees out of the buildings and into the stores, restaurants and market.
It is a sad day for the Downtown Residents. They moved here for the transit-oriented development; access to the trains, ferry and buses with basic needs within walking distance. I for one am sad to think that the windows of the Arcade will be dark again. I am not ready to say goodbye to Clyde Ripka. I am hoping a Call to Arms happens between the public and private sector to keep strengthening this Downtown neighborhood and reopen the market.