Craig Cohen must have needed a vivid imagination to conceive of the Keg and Case Market. The deserted Schmidt warehouse it’s now located in was riddled with graffiti, broken glass, and squatting birds when he bought it in 2014, but the entrepreneur saw the old building’s charm through all of that. Newly opened last September, it’s now a bustling 33,000 square foot community hub with a slew of eclectic vendors, a splendid place to meander about on a grizzly winter day like it probably is while you’re reading this.
The second my friends and I entered Keg and Case we were knocked off our feet by the bouquet of bacon. This is the superlative way to begin a shopping experience. We were first drawn to Forest to Fork, a wild food grocer with an enormous glass cased mushroom farm right next to their booth. The mushrooms erupting from the shelved sacks within were lit colorfully, like they were enjoying their own private fungal discotech right in the middle of things. Worker B nearby has their own miniature apiary, also thoughtfully glassed off, but when we visited the bees must have been on important bee business elsewhere.
We went to Hobby Farmer Canning Company where we were compelled to try switchel, a concoction of cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and water that the lady described as the original Gatorade, but I’d never douse my coach in switchel after winning the World Series because I like it too much. The ladies in our party swerved our course to Rose Street Patisserie, which had a smart case of little chocolates laid out like jewels.
These are far from Keg and Case’s only sweets. Just across the way we watched ladies at Spinning Wylde weaving tufts of cotton candy and crowning them with cocktail umbrellas. Bogart’s Donuts, whom I’d recalled from my days working near the IDS Center, were serving up donuts the size of fully grown box turtles, and House of Halva had a selection of their eponymous loaves which one of us was relieved to learn were gluten-free.
Who Keg and Case really belongs to are the carnivores, though. The K’nack had a tantalizing selection of cured and smoked meats, including a cone made of pepperoni and chopped up meat sticks. If you want to come up with a more convenient way of eating cured meat on the go, then you’ve got all your work in front of you. Revival Smoked Meats was serving up authentic Carolina barbecue, big sweating hunks of brisket and shoulder that’d be enough to make even the best trained dog forget all of his manners in an instant. Dogs have their own thing going at Keg and Case too, thanks to Barkley’s Bistro’s beefy smoked marrow bones.
So much excitement drained us, so it was time for coffee. My pals got beet juice and honeyed things, but I’m a plain Jane so I got whatever came when I asked for coffee. Had we only realized that Clutch Brewing Co. has half of the second floor balcony spanning around the market, where you could sit like a gargoyle while you drink a pint and look down at the throngs, we’d likely have gone in the other direction.
All the more reason to go back soon. There were more shops at Keg and Case than I could mention in this article, with pizza and ice cream and juices and cheeses and everything else you could need to feel human. You had ought to go yourself — visit kegandcase.com to learn more about this pleasant little indoor market and everything that they have to offer.
By David Scheller