Chef Josh Campbell to open first micro-grocery in downtown Cincinnati

Chef Josh Campbell plans to create a food trifecta in what Downtown Cincinnati Inc. calls the greater downtown area. Already owner of successful ventures World Food Bar, a gourmet prepared food stand at Findlay Market, and Mayberry, a mid-range restaurant on Vine Street, Campbell is expanding his food empire to include the Central Business District’s first grocery – a micro-market located at 7th and Main.

“Everything closes so early down here [in the CBD],” says Campbell. “I was hearing from the folks who come to Mayberry, that live down here, that Findlay Market closes so early, and there’s no place to get the necessities. Nobody ever looks out for the residents of Downtown. We’ve been so lucky with the support of everybody in the city and in the news, we’ve made a name for ourselves that we serve a quality product. So we thought, why not make a run at the grocery scene?”

The 500 square-foot Mayberry Foodstuffs, the tentative name for the new venture, will be filled to the brim with grocery essentials according to Campbell.

“It won’t be high end, it won’t be low end. It’s all about the shopping experience. Anybody can come in here and pick up the necessities. We’ll be carrying smaller portions – half gallons of milk, half loaves of bread. You can come in and you’re not going to get ripped off.”

Through the World Food Bar and Mayberry, which celebrates its first year of existence November 2nd, Campbell has established both a love for community and a commitment to high quality food at reasonable prices. The store will have a deli counter, serving meats and prepared food from World Food Bar, like cookie dough and soups. There will also be fresh-ground peanut butter, cat and dog food, and and old-school style candy counter.

Though the space is small, downtown supporters expect the impact to be large. One of those supporters includes David Ginsburg, President and CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., who is ecstatic that Campbell is making this bold move.

“Grocery stores really help to enhance the residential experience downtown,” Ginsburg explained. “They provide important products and help generate pedestrian activity. They are a sign of an increasingly vibrant downtown. Grocery stores are also an amenity for downtown workers and visitors.”

Currently there are about 9,000 residents in the downtown area; by 2012 that number is projected to grow to 12,500, according to the 2009 State of Downtown report from DCI. Campbell said he understands the risks associated with opening a grocery store in the central business district.

“You have the bigger chains, the Krogers and the Whole Foods, and they won’t come down because the risk is too great,” Campbell exclaimed. “I’m not afraid to step up, I’m not afraid of failure. If it happens, it happens. We’ll move on.”

Not only will workers and residents be able to visit Mayberry Foodstuffs for a sandwich or some eggs, but they might also be able to get delivery service from Findlay Market vendors. Campbell says that he wants to help support the local mom and pop shops that are the key to local success. One such way the new grocery will do that is by carrying 7 Hills coffee and other locally-sourced items.

In terms of the location, Campbell views the 7th and Main address as a perfect one thanks in large part to the number of condos and apartments nearby. The store will also be located on the Cincinnati Streetcar line which Campbell believes will help spur additional foot traffic.

Campbell has signed a one-year lease on the street-level retail space, and plans to open downtown’s first grocery store on Monday, November 1. After the opening date, Mayberry Foodstuffs will be open seven days a week until 10pm.

Above all though, Chef Josh says that he wants to create a sense of community around his micro-market.

“We want [Foodstuffs] to be a place where you come in and you’re not a number. We want you to come in and enjoy yourselves. We want to make sure that your needs are filled and that you have a good experience.”

If all goes well, Campbell says there might be additional micromarkets on the horizon from the World Food Bar Restaurant Group to continue to help serve the growing downtown area.

[This story was originally produced by for the Cincinnati Business Courier through a newly formed partnership.  Please read the originally published story online, and stay tuned for additional collaborations going forward.]

  • Zack

    I applaud Campbell for going where no one has gone before (10 pm!!!). But 500 sqft will either be super tight stocked, or may not meet some of the expectations of whats being billed as a micro-grocery. To be honest im not sure what that means anyway.

    Of course I will be there to pick up fresh ground PB on day 1 🙂

  • The micro-grocery/micromarket concept is one that has been very popular and successful in New York City. It’s basically just a jam-packed mini-grocery store. You will be able to find most everything you need there, but not a lot of options amongst items. You also won’t find the pharmacy, random swag, books, or other crap that is often sold at full grocery stores.

    Downtown will not need a full grocery store if there are about 4-5 of these located around the CBD, or 7-10 throughout the CBD and OTR.

  • I applaud this venture, especially if the store really ends up being open until 10pm. 10pm!!! But, let’s be fair — the basin area already has Silverglade’s, Sunshine Fine Foods, Garfield Market, Avril & Bleh, and the Vine St. Kroger. I’m probably forgetting one or more other places. Calling this “the Central Business District’s first grocery” is a bit of an overstatement. The chain drugstores carry a lot of basics as well, and are open later than the independents. But, it’s exciting that there will be another option, especially one with expanded hours.

  • I don’t think his criticism of Kroger is too apt. They aren’t that kind of store anymore. Witness the recent closures. They are competing with WalMart & Meijer & such.

  • visualingual:

    You are correct that there are other markets in the basin, but drug stores like CVS and Walgreens certainly don’t count. The Vine Street Kroger is not in fact in the CBD, and Silverglade’s and Avril-Bleh are very specific types of stores that have no where near the variety of what Mayberry Foodstuffs will have. The Garfield Market is probably the only thing that is close to this at this point in terms of items on-hand.

  • Kroger is the biggest grocery chain in the country.( It’s true that they are competing with mega-stores, but even those mega-stores have figured out how to adapt their layouts for an urban market. Specifically, smaller-footprint stores that utilize adaptive re-use, or construct buildings that face the street with parking in the back or underground, not in front like suburban models. These stores have a more open, modern feel, and only carry what is truly needed.

    The fact that Kroger has blatantly ignored its smallest and most urban location, only blocks from its headquarters, shows a huge lack of foresight on the company’s part. The Vine Street Kroger is one of the most expensive in the city, and has the poorest quality produce and often thawed and refrozen/chilled food. It’s pathetic.

    I will not be surprised when another grocery chain comes in and shows them how it’s done.

  • Weedrose

    I live in China and these are the norm here. You don’t need a 50,000 sq ft operation, no one in fact needs it – paralysis of too many options. Also, Josh is likely to actually hear customer suggestions unlike the big boys. The cozier feel, the intimacy and the respect that he’s showing to the downtowner is the reason that this operation is sure to get my dollar once I return.

  • What about Cianciolo’s on Main? I know they are not open late, but they are definitely a grocery store. It seems illogical to me to say that this will be the first micro-grocery in the CBD.

  • Randy, Silverglade’s and Avril & Bleh each have a deli counter and prepared foods, two of the features mentioned in the context of this new store. You can buy a lot of basics — milk, cereal, canned soup, crackers — at the chain drugstores. I actually think they’ve done a decent job of stepping up with more food items. Sure, their selection is dismal, but the selection in any small store is likely to be minimal. I think Josh is enough of a foodie to stock a limited selection of “good” stuff, and I bet he’ll be responsive to his customers.

  • I am aware of what these stores carry. But you made my point, they carry part of what Mayberry Foodstuffs will carry, but not all of it in one place. A micro-grocery is more than a deli counter and prepared foods…I consider those places to be meat stores for which Cincinnati so uniquely boasts.

    Then, as you point out, the drugstores don’t have a deli counter or prepared foods of this nature. Once again, it’s part of what Josh’s new place will offer, but not really comparable.

  • Emily S.

    Dave, I’m glad you mentioned Cianciolo’s (Main at 8th), a good store despite being cash-only.

    VisualLingual, look at Riddle Rd. Market. It’s probably 250′-300′ ft, half the space of this proposed grocery, and it manages to stock a decent variety of grocery items AND feature a sandwich deli. Now imagine Mayberry Foodstuffs scaling that up. Of course the variety won’t be Kroger-level, but I expect that if they use the space efficiently it’ll be a successful venture. Being open until 10 is a great idea.

    On a related note, for anyone interested, there was an article on Trader Joe’s in the latest Forbes Magazine. One of the points made was, most groceries don’t need a million types of laundry soap.


  • Emily S.

    The article was in Fortune, not Forbes, sorry.

  • Zack

    The biggest question to me still is the 500 ft^2. Im not doubting it can happen, but it will some good planning and execution to get “basics” and a few special items, have ample fresh produce, and a sandwich counter, in that space.

    I lived in NYC for 3 years, and the micro’s that did well were twice that size (but utilized the basement for storage). There were smaller micros, but they lacked sandwich counter and produce usually (or used the sidewalk for space as well).

    I suppose that if Foodstuffs does well enough, Campbell will expand or move into a bigger space.

    FWIW, they also have full grocerys in NYC, and they do well too, and are maybe 5% the size of your avg Kroger.

  • Emily S.

    Zach, there are some larger groceries in Manhattan, like Whole Foods (and now, Eataly).

  • Jason

    Way to go! I am excited to see someone making an effort to make downtown more liveable. I’ll certainly be checking this place out often. I hate driving all the way up to Clifton Krogers for little things at 8 or 9pm at night. I’d much rather stroll a few blocks from OTR to this area and pick stuff up on foot or bike. That’s exactly what makes a neighborhood enjoyable and walkable.

  • Jason

    Also, the best part of all is the 10pm closing time! THANK YOU! Seriously, it drives me nuts that nothing stays open down here, especially on the weekends.

  • Dan

    This is good news. Isn’t there already a grocery near there though?

  • Late hours and reasonable prices will be welcome. I am a fan of Avril-Bleh for groceries. But their hours and prices are not always the best.

  • Sam

    I hope they have a bike parking space(s) available!!!