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More than three months after a fire gutted Eastern Market’s South Hall, the Capitol Hill marketplace has a temporary home across the street. This past Saturday, the spotless, well-lit structure—already nicknamed “East Hall”—opened on Hine Junior High School’s playground. (The tented hall consumes only a portion of the blacktop, so Hine students still have a place for recess.) Although the space lacks the aged charm of the original building, which was built in 1873, it was great to see the usual vendors back in action.
Mike and Ray Bowers of Bowers Cheese, Juan Canales of Canales Meat, the Glasgow family of Fine Sweet Shop, Juyoung Jung of Capitol Hill Poultry and Produce, Chris Calomiris of Calomiris Fruits and Vegetables. The only glaring absence was Market Lunch, the grubby food stand known for blueberry pancakes, crab-cake sandwiches, long lines, and cutthroat competition for stools at the community table. A whiteboard sign promised Market Lunch’s return soon “but not today.”
Since the fire in late April, we’ve watched longtime vendors create alternative outdoor setups, selling goods from ice chests and folding tables. Mayor Adrian Fenty predicts that the renovated South Hall will reopen in about two years, but in the meantime these are welcome accommodations. And thanks to a fence around the structure, back-to-school Hine students won’t confuse it for a jungle gym.
Eastern Market’s East Hall, at Hine Junior High School (335 Eighth Street, SE), is open Tuesday through Saturday, 7 AM to 6 PM, and Sunday, 9 AM to 4 PM.