The Halifax Market Place is getting a face-lift. The building at 209 S. Main St. is being repurposed to become a multifaceted destination for town residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
Building renovations are underway to accommodate Viny’s Italian Restaurant, set to open in October. In mid-August, roofing contractor Gupton Sheet Metal and Roofing of South Boston will begin work on a new roof for the building.
Long-range plans for the Halifax Market Place include creating more floor space for vendors inside the market and adding green space and an outdoor dining area outside the building.
“Ever since the farmers’ market has been in operation, it has been a great success in terms of bringing people in for events on Saturdays,” said Halifax town manager Carl Espy. “With the restaurant coming in, that will amplify the success of the market and create some other opportunities, as well.”
The building that houses the Halifax Market Place, formerly known as the Halifax Farmer’s Market, was constructed in the 1960’s. This is the first time the building has undergone a major renovation, said Denise Barksdale, assistant manager of the town of Halifax. As the building has physically aged through the years, its function in the community has evolved, as well.
“We have started the rebranding process for the location — from the Halifax Farmer’s Market to the Halifax Market Place,” Barksdale said. “As it has developed and grown, it has become much more than a farmer’s market. It is now home to more than 35 diverse arts and crafts vendors. It will be home to a restaurant.”
Vincenzo “Viny” Ruotolo-Sarnataro is working on a complete overhaul of his portion of the Halifax Market Place, the future home of “Viny’s Italian Restaurant.” Halifax Town Council at its June meeting voted to approve a five-year lease of 3,148 square feet of space inside the building to Ruotolo-Sarnataro for the restaurant.
“We’re moving forward really good. We have everything lined up,” said Ruotolo-Sarnataro, on Tuesday, as contractors worked on drywall, electricity, plumbing and the storefront of the soon-to-be restaurant.
“The town seems really happy about the restaurant; the town is working with us. They’re putting a new roof on the building.”
Ruotolo-Sarnataro plans to offer subs, salads and appetizers to customers when Viny’s Italian Restaurant first opens its door. A couple of months later, he plans to add pasta dinners to the menu. Ruotolo-Sarnataro also shared his long-range plans for the restaurant: opening a mini Frutopia in the back portion of the restaurant in summer 2021, and eventually bringing the strawberry festival and the pizza festival that he used to hold in South Boston to his new venue in Halifax.
“We’re going to make Halifax great again,” Ruotolo-Sarnataro said.
He added, “This restaurant is also going to help non-profit organizations. I believe in giving back.”
Over at the farmer’s market side of the Halifax Market Place, plans are in place to increase the floor space and add a permanent wall.
“We have blue tarps that have been makeshift walls in the market for many years now,” Barksdale explained. “With the restaurant coming, we feel that we need to start upfitting, so we are going to get rid of those blue tarps, have a wall put up and take it back further. It opens up more floor space – an extra 1,800 square feet – that the market can use moving forward.”
Huber Engineered Woods recently donated a full unit of 55 sheets of 19/32 OSB boards to the town of Halifax for the construction of the wall.
The town of Halifax also plans to make improvements and add more vendor space outside the building. Currently, the Halifax Market Place has an open asphalt parking lot, which town officials envision making more aesthetically pleasing and inviting to visitors.
“We want to increase our vendor spaces outside and make it more friendly to the public, more of a usable space. We’re looking at how we can create more green space,” Barksdale said. “We would like to see some outdoor dining space out there, to tie it in with the green space. If we have an inviting outdoor dining area, it will entice visitors to stay and shop here.”
Espy said he believes creating more vendor space closer to the street will draw more visitors traveling U.S. Highway 501, a highly traveled road and primary route through the town of Halifax.
“When people are traveling up and down the 501 corridor, they’re stopping in Roxboro, they’re stopping in South Boston, they’re stopping at Toots Creek Antiques up the road,” Espy said. “The Halifax Market Place is another stop on that corridor.”
In the midst of a long-range building renovation project, the Halifax Market Place will play host to a season opening celebration for the farmer’s market. The season opening is set for July 18 from 8 a.m. until noon.
Customers at the season opening celebration can look forward to browsing the offerings of local farmers, from fresh vegetables, meats, free range eggs and herbs to baked goods, jams and jellies, and arts and crafts. All SNAP purchases will be matched. Hot dogs, chips and water will be served free of charge while supplies last.
Children at the season opening will have a chance to enter to win a free bike. Activity packets for the virtual Power of Produce Club kickoff also will be available at the market place that day for children ages 4 through 12.