The Bronx Night Market, a large celebration of cuisine and culture in the Bronx’s Fordham Plaza, saw an uptick in attendees with Fordham University’s fall semester in session. The event, which includes more than 50 local food, drink and artisan vendors, will draw close to 80,000 attendees from opening until it closes in October, organizers said.
Co-founder Amanda Celestino, FCLC ’14, began working on the Night Market in the spring of 2017. Celestino and her friend Marco Shalma officially launched the Night Market in May of 2018.
“Both Marco and I come from food backgrounds,” she said. “We both have worked in kitchens and restaurants,” she said. “I am also a food writer and editor and Marco owned some small concept restaurants. He and I just both loved food and it was a natural fit for us.”
According to Celestino, the Bronx Night Market provides the local community with food from around the globe in a fun environment.
“It’s a really good time,” Celestino said. “We have a lot of good food, live music, a selection of craft beers, other nonalcoholic beverages, games and programming every week.”
Celestino said she loves to see the faces people make when they are talking with each other and listening to music.
“It’s just a really good vibe, and now that Fordham is back in session I have been seeing a lot of maroon and white sweatshirts,” she said. “It’s exciting to see all the Fordham students come.”
The Bronx Night Market also attempts to help the local community by giving up-and-comers in the industry a chance to promote their businesses and new, creative culinary concoctions.
“We give them an audience and offer them a lot of marketing and branding opportunities,” Celestino said. “We have a large platform on social media and give them a space. Most vendors can’t afford a brick and mortar store off the bat, so having a place to sell where there’s a lot of people, it is a good opportunity for them.”
One of the vendors at the Bronx Night Market includes the Bronx Burger Co., founded by Alpha Omar Bah. The business sells quality burgers “born and raised in the Bronx to the Bronx,” as an alternative to some of the sandwiches that dominate Manhattan.
“We try to do that because Manhattan has Shake Shack and all these fancy burgers, and we’re trying to do the same thing here,” Bah said.
For Bah, who has been in the food industry for eight to nine years, the Bronx Night Market is a way to get a food concept off the ground.
“I have been at the Bronx Night Market 11 times,” Bah said. “I am ready for that next step to actually start this business and create a company that won’t change my life but the life of people in my community.”
Another vendor at the Bronx Night Market includes Rellenos, which was founded by Catherine Martinez and her girlfriend.
“It started with friends just loving tostones rellenos,” Martinez said. “The future is hopefully a food truck or a restaurant.”
Anthony Milando, FCRH ’21, came from Fordham to attend the event after hearing about the wide variety of food.
“The sense of community we get here is my favorite part,” Milando said. “Everyone is coming together. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
But Milando said he was surprised it has yet to become a student staple.
“Not many Fordham students know about this,” Milando said. “What other place can you find a shark sandwich other than the Bronx Night Market?”
The Bronx Night Market plans to get more food vendors, different unique concepts and new programming for each week with different themes.
“The sky is the limit,” Celestino said. “We just started and we’re only in our second year and there’s still a lot to work on. This has been our biggest year yet and we’re going into the last eight events of the season.”
The Bronx Night Market will remain open at Fordham Plaza every Saturday until Oct. 26 from 4–10 p.m. Admission is free and no vendor will sell their food for more than $10.
In addition, the Bronx Night Market will host a Harvest Festival in November and a Christmas special two weekends in December. The time and location for these events have yet to be determined.