Night markets are all the rage in San Francisco these days. It turns out the Fillmore District already has one of its very own.
The Fillmore has quietly hosted a weekly Friday night market since August, featuring catered soul food, small business vendors and local artists. Held between Fillmore and Steiner streets along O'Farrell Street, the night market includes food vendors and operates in San Francisco's historically Black neighborhood. It runs between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. every week.
"It's so hard for small businesses and restaurants right now—we wanted to create an area and platform where we can pop up consistently," said Joy Williams, owner of On the Ground Catering. "We get about a couple hundred or so visitors every night, and we sell out really quick."
Williams and three other vendors piloted the Fillmore's first night market on Aug. 11, though she and event organizers stress that the event is still in its "beginning stages." Previously, vendors had catered local block parties and holiday events, including the neighborhood's annual Juneteenth celebration.
A flyer for the night market currently promises "smoked BBQ, hibachi soul food, frozen desserts," and other retail and entertainment vendors.
"The demand is there; we just need more marketing," Williams said. "Events in the Fillmore District don’t get a lot of the same acknowledgment that other districts get—and the Fillmore is historically known for its jazz presence and African American culture."
Organizers also hope to bring live music to future night markets, pending a permit from the city. The night market flyer says it will feature performances from local artists and the West Coast Caravan of All Stars, a blues band that has previously performed with musical legends Etta James, Willie Nelson and Chaka Khan.
The news comes just as another night market was hailed as a success when it debuted recently. The Sunset Night Market drew thousands of San Franciscans to the neighborhood last Friday, shutting down three blocks for 80 vendors.
The Fillmore Night Market is funded and supported by community groups, event organizers and city agencies.
The New Community Leadership Foundation and Unknown Promotions committed between $30,000 and $40,000 to back the market, according to NCLF Executive Director Majeid Crawford. These two groups, using funding from the Dream Keeper's Initiative and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, will fund the Fillmore market for eight more weeks starting on Sept. 29. Funding was arranged by Nicola Fleming of OEWD, Crawford said.
Supervisor Dean Preston's office also says it has been "very engaged with the organizers" in supporting the market.
“My office is proud to support the Fillmore Friday Night Market, a fantastic weekly event organized by community leaders that’s activating the neighborhood with amazing food and retail vendors, supporting Black owned businesses, and providing a welcoming space for the community to gather," Preston said in a statement. "The Friday market is bringing people of all ages out to celebrate the rich history of the Fillmore and continue the important work of revitalizing the neighborhood through community-led efforts.”
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