This east county destination hosts the Cambridge Square Night Market every Friday in summer.
The Mama’s and the Papa’s California Dreamin’ filters through outdoor speakers while a couple entertains small grandchildren in the outdoor square. A group of hip twenty-somethings laugh while enjoying a pizza at a nearby wrought-iron table. Several women hurry past, with yoga mats in tow, on their way to class.
No, this isn’t the Northshore, Southside, or event downtown Chattanooga. It’s Cambridge Square, the new(ish) community-focused development in heart of Ooltewah. Opened in 2013, the mixed-use space is now home to hot spots like Lupi’s Pizza, Yoga East, Mixed Up Cup Yogurt, the Wine Down Wine Bar, Heaven & Ale and Southern Burger Company. Beginning May 6, Cambridge Square will also serve as home to the Night Market, the newest concept from Public Markets, Inc., the producer of the popular Chattanooga Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion.
The Cambridge Square Night Market will run every Friday, from 5:00–8:00 p.m., through the end of July. (Update: the market has been extended through October, and the hours will shift to 6pm-9pm in August). Melissa Siragusa, director of marketing and media relations for Public Markets, says the expansion into Ooltewah was a natural progression for the Market, which already runs three open-air, weekly markets in the Chattanooga area.
“Bringing an artists’ market to Cambridge Square exposes people in the eastern portion of Hamilton County to a taste of our artistic community, which includes some great musicians. Friday nights this summer are shaping up to be really festive for the Ooltewah community,” Siragusa says.
Many of the same artists and vendors who display at the Chattanooga Market will be on hand for the Night Market; however, Public Markets management hopes to have a variety of artists from the Ooltewah area as well. Artisan foods, arts and crafts, and locally-grown produce are among crowd favorites. The markets are often a destination spot for locals who want to support small, boutique businesses. Jim Cheney emphasizes that the Night Market will be a great date-night destination but also the perfect place to bring the entire family.
According to Cheney, marketing director for Cambridge Square, the Night Market will have a similar look and feel to the market that is held at the First Tennessee Pavilion in Chattanooga. “We hope to see an extension of what they are already doing at the Chattanooga Market,” Cheney says. “I think by locating it in Ooltewah, we’ll draw people from this side of Hamilton County, both vendors and visitors.”
One difference in the Night Market will be in the food and beverage vendors. Cambridge Square already houses several popular eating establishments that serve everything from gourmet burgers and calzones to braised short ribs and duck poutine. Visitors can also sip on a locally-brewed craft beer at Heaven and Ale or enjoy a glass of wine at Wine Down. Many of the established restaurants will also have an outdoor presence during the Friday market.
“The central parking area around the Square will be closed to through-traffic,” Cheney says. “This way, families can let their children run around, have fun, but not have to worry about cars in the Square.” A large parking lot adjacent to the Square will allow visitors easy access to all shops and restaurants.
Business owners in Cambridge Square are excited about the new Market opening this summer. Dr. Keith Tedford, owner of Tedford Family Dentistry, moved his practice to the Square in 2014. “When we were shown the vision of Cambridge Square several years ago, we believed it would be the hub for community activity such as eating, shopping, and leisurely activities, and we wanted to be in the center of that,” Dr. Tedford says. “Since the move, we have had a 20 percent increase in growth. We have several patients who live outside of Ooltewah who have told me they look forward to their dental visit simply so they can see what has been added in Cambridge Square.”
Dr. Tedford believes when the Night Market begins in May, the increase in foot traffic will have a positive effect on, not only his practice, but for all of the businesses in the Square.
Other Cambridge Square tenants agree. Rachelle Pecovsky owns two businesses in the Square; she opened Mixed Up Cup Yogurt in July 2014 and Yoga East Ooltewah a year later. She also recognized the area needed a community-focused destination for its residents.
“The first time I saw Cambridge Square, it was clear to me that it was the up-and-coming location in the greater Ooltewah area. It reminded me very much of the extremely popular town centers that I was familiar with in Washington DC. I’ve seen firsthand that the ‘Live, Work, Eat, Play’ concept of these town centers has a broad appeal to area residents and visitors,” Pecovsky says.
She believes the addition of the Night Market this summer will bring in new customers for the Square and will give visitors a reason to return week after week. “Events like the Night Market solidify the concept of the live, work, eat, play nature of Cambridge Square. It also affords local residents the opportunity to make a night of it and enjoy multiple activities and events in one great location.”
Jim Cheney says the property’s developer, Legacy Realty Market, is thrilled with the response from the community as well as businesses looking to relocate or open in the Square. “We’ve increased our tenant base to about 18, including businesses, restaurants, and corporate headquarters.” One of their keys to success, Cheney says, is having a strong social media presence, engaging the community, and responding to their input as to what types of businesses residents want to see open in the Square.
“The restaurant mix has been especially well supported. We get a lot of people, when the weather turns nice, just wanting to hang out and enjoy the area. Our message from the very beginning has been that we wanted to create somewhat of a destination in that area where people take ownership of it and make it a community gathering spot, and I think we’ve done that.”
“I think Cambridge Square has a lot of symmetry [with downtown Chattanooga]. Obviously, we are on a much smaller scale, but I think what we’ve created is very similar to more of an urban environment. We have a lot of people who are commuting to downtown Chattanooga for work, and the Square gives them an opportunity to stay close to home as opposed to going back downtown,” Cheney says.
With the addition of the Night Market at Cambridge Square, Ooltewah residents will certainly have one more reason to stay close to home on Friday nights this summer.
Story by Julie Jackson
Photography courtesy of Legacy Realty Market