Somerville’s Bow Market Expands
The tucked-away Union Square maker-market has added storefronts right on Somerville Avenue—and there’s more food to enjoy.
Five years ago, Bow Market effectively doubled the number of businesses in Somerville’s Union Square, when small-scale businesses like Remnant Brewing, empanadas-and-more shop Buenas, and an all-vegetarian version of downtown restaurant Saus opened up at the courtyard-centered local maker marketplace. Since then, the neighborhood has changed dramatically. The long-promised Green Line Extension finally opened (then closed and opened again, but who’s counting), and the makeup of the surrounding business district has ebbed and flowed. Bow Market itself has evolved too. Last week, it unveiled its most dramatic change yet: Storefronts on Somerville Avenue.
The prominent expansion establishes more space for five businesses already at the marketplace, including two restaurants slated to open in big, new storefronts this December. (And new businesses are joining the market, taking over the vacated spots.) “It’s something that we’re really proud of being able to offer folks,” says Bow Market cofounder Zach Baum, who purchased and renovated the additional commercial space with his Bow Market business partner, Matthew Boyes-Watson. The duo always envisioned the development as a next step for the type of mom-and-pop shops that you’d see at farmers and artists markets. “It’s really exciting to see that folks are building their businesses and growing,” says Baum.
Hot Box, purveyor of South Shore-style bar pizza and North Shore-style roast beef sandwiches, is an original Bow Market food vendor taking over one of the new spaces, along with its breakfast-sandwich-slinging sibling, Mike & Patty’s. Meanwhile, Carolicious Gourmet co-owners Carolina Garcia and Carolina Salinas found the first home for their Venezuelan cuisine at Bow Market as a long-term pop-up, and they’ll return this winter with their first full restaurant. Both new restaurants at Bow Market will still focus on takeout, but customers can step into the storefronts from Bow’s back courtyard, which is also home to Remnant Brewing’s beer garden.
Also relocated: Tiny Turns Paperie, a stationery and boutique gift shop that “graduated” from a smaller shop on Bow’s second floor, and Blue Bandana Relics, a day-one Bow Market staple since that sells curated vintage goods and provisions. Those two businesses have taken up the prominent Somerville Avenue storefronts. This new section of Bow Market connects to the rest via a neon-lit breezeway. Plus, Soft Space Wellness, a massage, strength, and recovery studio previously located on Bow’s second story, is now in a bigger ground-floor space accessible from Bow’s back courtyard.
Since its opening, Bow Market has seen 56 permanent businesses come and go, Baum says, plus hosted more than 80 pop-ups. Some relative newcomers include Korean-American bakery Nine Winters; Southern Pines Diner Car, a loaded sandwich concept by chef Matthew Bullock; and the Eaves, a Vietnamese restaurant and bar by James Beard Award semifinalist Vincenzo Le and Duong Huynh of Cambridge coffeeshop Cicada. Additionally, stints at Bow Market have helped launch 40 other brick-and-mortar businesses in Boston and beyond, including women-owned operations in Cambridge like Davis Square sandwich shop Shirley, screen-free café and dessert-and-wine bar Zuzu’s Petals, award-winning wine bar Dear Annie, and social impact-driven gift shop Abroad Modern. “We started Bow Market to give folks an opportunity to start small,” with lower barriers to entry, Baum says.
For Hot Box owner Ania Zaroda and her business partner Mike Gurevich, who purchased Bay Village breakfast nook Mike & Patty’s from its founder a decade ago, opening at Bow Market was a way to test new concepts. “We just had a feeling that it would be a good place,” Zaroda says, and they’ve been proven correct. “It’s nice to see other brands grow that have been there as well,” she adds. “We’re friends. It’s a really nice community.”
A few years in at Hot Box, Zaroda and Gurevich brought their daytime concept, Mike & Patty’s, to their space at Bow Market, serving the latter’s menu for breakfast and lunch and the former’s for dinner. It’s been successful in encouraging more foot traffic throughout the day at the market, Zaroda says, and it does a brisk business with third-party delivery apps, especially since the neighborhood has grown, she adds.
But the dual concepts have strained the capacity of the super-small kitchen with a walk-up window. Hot Box and Mike & Patty’s forthcoming combo-location gives them about 50% more square footage, plus a more efficient kitchen setup, since they were able to design the buildout from the ground up, Zaroda explains. There’s also room for a fryer, so hashbrowns and fries will be on the menus when Hot Box and Mike & Patty’s make their move later this year.
Carolicious Gourmet is the first full restaurant from Garcia and Salinas, specializing in arepas stuffed with the likes of cheese, beef, black beans, plantains, avocado, and chicken. The duo, who hail from Venezuela, started their brand at Boston’s culinary business incubator Commonwealth Kitchen. At Bow Market, Carolicious was among the rotating vendors who inaugurated the Nibble Kitchen space, a City of Somerville initiative to support immigrant entrepreneurs. In 2019, they moved full-time into a residency at Aeronaut Brewing Company just a few blocks off Somerville Avenue. “Today, Carolina and Carolina stand on the precipice of a new chapter, ready to elevate Carolicious to new heights,” reads a crowdfunding campaign they launched this month. Carolicious is seeking $20,000 through Patroncity to purchase new equipment.
The Bow Market expansion makes room for new businesses in the main part of the marketplace, too. Coming soon are Lexie Butterfly Vintage, a seller specializing in psychedelic, colorful pieces from the ‘60s and ‘70s; Homebody General, a DIY craft shop; and the Barber’s Den, a two-seat salon. Homme Repair, a mending shop, will also open this year.
Additionally, Fauve Chocolate is slated to open in the coming weeks where Gâté Comme Des Filles, another chocolatier, recently vacated. (Gâté founder Alexandra Whisnant is now focused on her Cambridge business, Zuzu’s Petals, where she’ll continue offering her decadent chocolates leading up to various holidays. Another favorite from her closed Bow Market shop, the ultra-thick hot chocolate, is available at Zuzu’s Petals during daytime café hours.) Fauve chocolatier Erica Russom previously managed several Bow Market businesses and will stock her new shop with rotating handmade chocolates, baked goods, and retail items.
Baum says the Bow Market team hasn’t yet lined up a new tenant for the Hot Box space but hints at “some very exciting candidates.” Considering Bow Market’s track record over the last five years, something novel—and likely delicious—is surely in store.
1 Bow Market Way, Union Square, Somerville, bowmarketsomerville.com.