Grand Central Market has a rich and storied history. The business opened as a market in 1917 — but before that, it was a well-known department store intended to serve the wealthy upper class of Los Angeles who lived in the Bunker Hill neighborhood.
Nowadays, it’s a marketplace where locals and visitors alike can come together and enjoy some of the most authentic tastes in Los Angeles. Over the course of the past century, this market has evolved to match the demand and the flavors of the local community as the city itself has grown and changed.
Metrolink spoke with Langdon Street Capital’s President, Adam Daneshgar, who heads the real estate investment company which oversees the market and its development. He shared insight into how the destination has evolved over this past century, and how the company plans to preserve its heritage while consistently adding new business and culture to its vibrant mix of food and drink offerings.
The Stalls that Stand the Test of Time
“We have customers who have been coming here for decades – who are now third and fourth generation and come with their parents, and are now they’re bringing their own kids,” said Daneshgar.
He described the diversity of both customers and vendors in the mix of businesses at the market.
“We have a couple legacy tenants – businesses that have been here for a long time. We also have our new wave tenants, the ones who have joined us over the past ten years throughout the resurgence of the downtown area.”
From blue collar to white collar and everyone in-between, all are welcome to explore the flavors of Grand Central Market.
“There are the construction workers who get their lunch at 9 or 10 a.m. since their days start so early – or you’ll see people with their luggage who are either on the way to the airport or who have just returned from the airport — we’re proud to be their first or last stop before they go home. Then, there are the business workers in their office apparel and work attire.”
This market encompasses 30,000 square-feet of food stalls and retail space. The interior and exterior sitting spaces provide a shared gathering place to meet friends, bring a date, or take the kids on a trip to DTLA.
It’s a place of exploration and discovery; it’s the opportunity to try new foods or indulge in a special craving. Try the most interesting PB&J in town at PBJ.LA, where unique ingredients include curried cashew butter and spicy mango chutney (it’s good, we promise!) or the beloved donut shop, The Donut Man, which sells out of its stuffed strawberry donuts in record time during the height of fresh strawberry season.
Head over to classic Los Angeles outpost, Golden Road for a brew – or stop at Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria, which creates authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas. There’s also Knead & Co. which is known for its mix of traditional, yet elevated Italian-American dishes and freshly made pastas. It’s a feast of flavors.
“You’ll see visitors walking around to explore – checking out all the menus and taking in the options,” he said. “Then, you’ll see the long-time visitors who know exactly where they want to go — they’re our regulars.”
A Timeless and Classic Community
One detail that makes Grand Central Market special is its ability to stand the test of time, through two pandemics, multiple wars, economic downturns, and the significant changes downtown Los Angeles has faced over the past 100-plus years. Daneshgar described the efforts his company makes to support its legacy.
“We understand how special the history and character of the market are, and we have no intention of changing that,” he said. “One thing we’ve done to preserve the culture of the marketplace is extending long-term, affordable leases to our legacy tenants who are an integral part of the community.”
He described the specific efforts that go toward preserving the space for its regular visitors.
“We really want to make it a place where there’s a strong community by incorporating more special events,” he said. “We’re creating a special events venue in the basement, we’re trying to activate the theatre more for artistic events, and we’re all about serving those who make us who we are.”
Daneshgar said the market is enthusiastic about partnering with Metrolink because the rail service offers increased access to those who might not have their own set of wheels. Grand Central Market has always been an accessible destination for visitors and locals of all ages and backgrounds.
“Metrolink helps to bring the community together and connects people with different places and Grand Central Market is an iconic location in Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s important for people to recognize the infrastructure that’s available, and Metrolink allows this community to be here and come together.”
To learn more about Grand Central Market’s current vendors and happenings, visit their website, here.