Downtown Brooklynites will be unsuspecting guinea pigs at a new deli on Court Street: the Italian-sounding F. Martinella delicatessen near State Street is actually a retail concept store for the Boar’s Head cold-cut conglomerate.
The old-fashioned-style delicatessen will offer Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, as well as salads, soups, coffee and bread baked by local hands — but when the quick-serve restaurant opens at the end of September, its partner companies — Boar’s Head Provisions Inc. and Frank Brunckhorst Company, LLC — will be studying customer habits, service and selling programs, and how its products move throughout the store, explained spokeswoman RuthAnn LaMore.
“It’s a greenhouse to develop and test new product concepts … and respond to the ever-changing marketplace,” she said. “We want to understand the retail environment and to test new products, test new concepts, and bring them out to our retail distributors and partners.”
As for the “proper” sounding deli name, it’s an aggregate of the company heads’ names: ‘F.’ for Boar’s Head Provisions founder Frank Brunckhorst, ‘Martin’ for its CEO Robert Martin, and ‘-ella’ for its president Michael Martella. The Lost City blog uncovered the mystery last week, which LaMore later confirmed.
The Florida-based deli meat producer chose to conduct its edible experiment in Brooklyn because Frank Brunckhorst started the deli meat empire in Williamsburg, LaMore said.
But the stretch of Court Street from Atlantic Avenue north to Cadman Plaza is a particularly good spot to open a company’s first retail store, particularly if it’s a concept store, said real estate broker Tim King of CPEX Realty.
“Court Street is like the connective tissue that joins the … half-dozen constituency bases in the area,” King said. “You put all these dynamic forces together and it’s why Court Street would be a dynamic place to put a food store, particularly an innovative food store that people would come out of their way to go to.”
And as a result, rents along this strip are astronomical. The rent for the 2,500-square-foot F. Martinella storefront is “at a nosebleed level,” said King, who was originally involved in the deal, but did not close it.
To compare, a 650-square-foot space for a yogurt shop at 32 Court St. recently went for $14,000, King added.
LaMore said the company is excited to see how the store plays out, but added that F. Martinella will be Boar’s Head only foray into retail, as the company has no plans to franchise the concept.