Michaela Graham, founder of Atlanta Nosh, Atlanta Underground Market and Feast Noir announced by email today that she is ceasing operations of all her food-related ventures in Atlanta.
Atlanta Underground Market, Graham’s original concept, was structured as a private club, granting access to those who had signed up as members on its website. The market offered local vendors without brick and mortar locations a way to establish themselves and earn feedback about their products.
In today’s email, Graham said, “Those of you that had come to the Atlanta Underground Market from the beginning, saw the growth. It just got too big to keep it under wraps any longer. It was either: ‘Close it down’ or ‘go big.’ ”
Going “big” meant opening Atlanta Nosh, a weekly market at Atlantic Station which Graham called a “playground for foodies.” The market opened mid-April serving an estimated 200-250 ready-to-eat and prepackaged items.
Atlanta Nosh initially charged a $5 entry fee and sold season passes ($35) to cover permitting and venue costs. In early May, after the second market, the entry fee was dropped in an effort to increase attendance. Graham says, “I made the choice to go big, naively thinking that going public would mean an increase in numbers. It didn’t happen. In fact, we had lower turnout than at previous AUMs [Atlanta Underground Markets].”
When the entry fee was waived, season pass holders were offered food tickets in compensation. Now, Graham offers her apologies to the season pass holders who will be unable to redeem those food coupons. “The cost for following all the permit requirements were staggering, to say the least. I used the funds from the season passes to get everything established.”
Yet, it seems Atlanta Nosh’s woes didn’t end with low attendance. Graham recently received an email from a Nosh attendee who claims to have gotten sick from food provided by one of the vendors and is “now looking for payment.” According to her email,
Unfortunately, that was the piece of straw that broke camel’s back. I just don’t have the financial ability to deal with that. I can’t pay someone, nor can I afford to hire a lawyer. While the vendors were starting to make profit, I only had losses with the Nosh. I was trying to hang on for the vendors that did start their businesses and to make the season pass holders whole, but yesterday just did me in.
What started as a “secret” event drawing crowds that stretched for blocks from the entrance of Sweet Auburn Curb Market now comes to the “end of an era” as Graham called it.
“And with that I’m discontinuing all food events in Atlanta, as I know that my reputation will be completely shot… I gambled and I lost.”
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog