Come December, St. Roch Market will be known as Politan Row Miami.
The name change comes after a settlement was reached last week, following a 2018 lawsuit filed by the New Orleans Building Corporation and the City of New Orleans against Bayou Secret, whose principals include Will Donaldson, Barre Tanguis, and David Donaldson; restaurateur Surin Techarukpong; and an entity linked to investor Randy Fertel, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (On June 30, the Advocate absorbed the Times-Picayune, wiping out some of its online story database. Find a PDF at the end of this story.)
The settlement states that Bayou Secret has until the end of 2019 to change the name of the Miami food hall. In addition, Bayou Secret must pay the City of New Orleans $10 to license the name of the Miami food hall through the end of the year, as well as $2 for each St. Roch hat and T-shirt sold.
The original St. Roch Market in New Orleans and its name date back to 1838. It was damaged after Hurricane Katrina and reopened in 2014 after an extensive renovation, with Bayou Secret managing the operations. The City of New Orleans has now applied for a federal trademark to protect the St. Roch name.
Moving forward from the name, St. Roch Miami partner Will Donaldson formed a new company called Politan Group in February 2019, designed to own and operate food halls. The first Politan Row opened in Chicago in May 2019, with Politan Row Houston slated to open in the fall. St. Roch Market will transition into Politan Row Miami in December. At the same time, the bar at the Design District food hall will change its name from the Mayhaw to Bar Politan.
Until then, St. Roch Market Miami will continue to operate unchanged, with the same roster of eateries and chefs.
The name Politan, Donaldson says, comes from the Greek root word polis, which translates to "a body of citizens." "We needed a name to fit what we are, which is a group of creative folks doing something cool. We're more community oriented than some other food halls."
Donaldson says the name change likely won't happen until after Art Basel. With new signage, the Design District food hall will also get an upgrade on furnishings for the patio area and a color refresh of the interior space. The vendors won't change, though the bar will undergo a transformation. The focus will be less on New Orleans-inspired cocktails, opening the door for more creativity in the drinks.
The food hall will also introduce a new app that allows guests to order food and drink and have it delivered directly to their table. "If you're hanging with your buds, you can just order another drink or some more food without having to get up," the food hall partner says.
In the year and a half since St. Roch opened in Miami, the food hall scene has expanded greatly, but Donaldson predicts we'll see more to come — and that's a good thing. "Food halls represent an opportunity for talented people to go out and do their thing. To open a restaurant in a large city, it might take $3 million, but at a food hall, you need the equivalent of an apartment deposit."
Consumers get value from food halls, too. "Every food hall has its own point of differentiation," Donaldson says. "Ours is a true feeling of customer service and hospitality."
The food hall entrepreneur says of his expansion plans into other cities: "Each market will continue to be reflective of its individual city and the community, and our mission to work with people who inspire us while creating opportunities for local vendors remains the same."
St. Roch Market. 140 NE 39th St., Miami; 786-542-8977; miami.strochmarket.com.