Claudette Torbey offers a sample of chocolate-covered espresso beans.
“Sampling. It’s my favorite part of going to the grocery store. You like to eat as you shop, don’t you?” says the owner of the new Fleet Street Market, a gourmet grocery that recently opened at 2001 Fleet St.
Torbey was also offering samples of tomatoes from Calvert Farms and snickerdoodles from Hamilton Bakery. The shop, still in its soft-opening phase, is already bustling with hungry customers.
The 1,100-square-foot store, with its bright, fresh-painted storefront, has the look of a boutique grocery and the vibe of a community market. That’s the combination Torbey is striving for. The Chicago transplant and former lawyer has always been involved in community work, and she wants Fleet Street Market to be a place where people come not only to shop, but also to hang out, drink coffee, and have conversations.
“A grocery store is as much about community as it is about food and convenience,” she says.
Torbey, who lives in Butchers Hill, opened the market because she needed a high quality grocery store she could walk to.
“I talked with some of my neighbors, and they wanted the same thing,” she says.
Fleet Street Market focuses on locally and regionally sourced food products, including pasture-raised eggs and pastured, free-range chickens.
Its produce and herbs currently come from a farm in Cecil County. This week’s selection includes rhubarb, asparagus, fennel, squash, tomatoes, and peppers, among about 20 offerings.
The market’s grocery inventory reads like a list of who’s who in the Baltimore-area food scene—from Cherry Glen Farm cheeses to Infused Spreads jams to Vann’s Spices and Zeke’s Coffee. Torbey also has fresh bread delivered daily from Hamilton Bakery, a well-regarded artisanal bakery in Northeast Baltimore. The current selection from Hamilton includes baguettes, fig-anise-walnut loaves, and its famous focaccia—sold whole or by the wedge. “We are also the only grocery store that carries Ostrowski’s of Washington St. sausages,” Torbey adds with pride.
While Fleet Street’s focus is on natural foods, is also stocks staples like sugar, bacon, and hot dog buns, and goodies, like chocolate bars and grown-up sodas, Torbey clarifies.
It also sells a growing variety of prepared foods, such as sushi from Sticky Rice in Fells Point.
“We will soon have brewed and iced coffee, and a weekend baker will make scones and cinnamon rolls for us. For now, we’re adding arugula-turkey-and brie sandwiches and chopped salads,” Torbey says.
Fleet Street Market’s neighbors are excited to have a high-quality, locally focused market close by.
“I’m thrilled to have a more diverse retail mix,” says Meghan Rockwood, manager of Fashion Attic, a high-end women’s consignment store across the street. “Their storefront is also very attractive.”
Likewise, Nicole Daley, owner of Hanger Alley, a boutique a few doors down from the market, has been in the store almost every day since it opened. Daley says it’s great to have a shop close by for lunch and snacks. “This week, I had Sticky Rice sushi and Tate’s macadamia nut cookies. They are pure evil—so delicious.”
Torbey plans to have a grand opening for the store on Saturday, July 14. For now, Fleet Street Market is open seven days a week, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the week, and 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends. It will soon have wifi and a few tables.
by Danielle Sweeney