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Downtown Morro Bay farmers’ market shut down

Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 21:11:51-05

The farmers’ market in downtown Morro Bay on Saturdays is no more.

The final farmers’ market was held on the last Saturday in January.

Businesses scattered along the market have very different reactions to the market and the decision to shut it down.

Abe Abuhilal has owned Grape Leaf Deli & Market on Main Street for three years. Every Saturday, you could catch him at his booth at the Main Street Market.

“The farmers’ market is my window to this business, actually,” he said.

Abuhilal prides himself on farm to table food, being a farmer himself, and has been taking part in the Chamber of Commerce-hosted market for more than ten years.

Back in August, the market was moved to Main Street and Morro Bay Boulevard.

Six months later, the Chamber has decided to discontinue the market.

“There were mounting complaints being filed at City Hall against the market and there were sort of stories about negative business impacts,” said Erica Crawford, President/CEO of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The market closed three main intersections, meaning no parking outside the businesses between 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

It forced Rio Salon to close early on Saturdays due to their clientele.

“A lot of them are older – 80, 90-year-olds – so having street front is really important, vital for our business,” said Ezra Mejorado, Rio Salon stylist and owner.

Beads by the Bay owner Susan Stewart said for them, it drew in more foot traffic.

“Certainly visitors who knew the waterfront but didn’t know this part of town, but even local people who sort of forget what a great little downtown area we have,” Stewart said.

The Grape Seed Deli says they’ve relied on the market for years as a main source of income.

“When the regular day, sunny day, we make three times whatever we make in a regular day,” Abuhilal said.

But with this announcement, the City of Morro Bay and the chamber say they’re still committed to the vitality of downtown through new projects.

“We’ll be putting cafe lights up to help liven the downtown area and also focus on signage to encourage people to come through downtown,” said City Manager Scott Collins.

The new lights are set to go up sometime in March.

The Chamber of Commerce says there are some vendors that are interested in taking over the farmers’ market permit from them. Talks will get underway this Wednesday. The city manager says a new market will need to promote the nearby businesses and public safety.

Other businesses told us the market was more of a craft fair than a market.

Morro Bay will still have it’s farmers’ market on Thursdays outside Spencer’s Market, hosted by the SLO County Farmers’ Market Association.