Is LA's Grand Central Market on cusp of gentrification? Internet in splits over $8 PB&J sandwich

The market is seen as a potpourri of different cultures and authentic cuisines serving affordable food but the alleged gentrification is allegedly replacing its earlier idea of ‘affordability’


                            Is LA's Grand Central Market on cusp of gentrification? Internet in splits over $8 PB&J sandwich
(Getty Images)

Are Salvadorian, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Guatemalan dishes at Grand Central Market losing their spot to a peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwich? And is this leading to gentrification of the historical Los Angeles market known for being culturally diverse in cuisines? These are some of the pertinent questions bogging the minds of people on the Internet after a debate cropped up over a video of a PB&J sandwich.



 

The video showed a Grand Central Market food outlet named PBJ.LA, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is their hallmark. They use various “organic, exotic nut butters, superfoods, artisanal jams and more” for their delightful and gourmet food. However, many people questioned if such high-branded outlets are leading to gentrification of the market, which has been in news over the issue for a while now. 
 

Guests attend 'Phil Rosenthal and Nancy Silverton Feed You' during Vulture Festival presented by AT&T at Grand Central Market on November 17, 2018, in Los Angeles, California/ Getty Images

Lost glory in rising gentrification?

The Grand Central Market is an open food hall in the downtown of the bustling city of LA that is located between Hill and Broadway. The market is perceived as a potpourri of different cultures and cuisines that are savored by market-goers. One of the characteristic features of the market is that it serves affordable food and a rich cultural environment. However, Sun Dial reported in 2016 that the atmosphere has veered into the lane of fancy eateries and events, totally replacing its earlier idea of ‘affordability’. It further mentions that many trendy, new food vendors have cropped up at the Market in past years like Belcampo Meat Co, Wexler’s Deli, DTLA Cheese, G&B Coffee and EggSlut to name a few.

Nancy Silverton (L) and Phil Rosenthal attend 'Phil Rosenthal and Nancy Silverton Feed You' during Vulture Festival presented by AT&T at Grand Central Market on November 17, 2018, in Los Angeles, California/ Getty Images

Further several reports suggest that due to the establishment of costly food outlets, the rents in the market have soared up causing distress to small business owners. Clark Chronicle reported that with chains and big business owners taking up space, the lower rent family-run shops have no option but to surrender their businesses to the higher-paying renters. It also mentioned that the legacy of several culturally authentic food has diminished. For instance, authentic Mexican food is replaced with coffee breweries and restaurants like Egg Slut, the site reported. It underscored that this gentrification is not only affecting those families who relied on their careers, but it is also changing the face of the market founded in 1917.

Customers dismayed over gentrification

After the video of the sandwich appeared, many feel that the food served in the market is much overpriced and not that authentic and the market is being gentrified.“I see Grand Central Market trending. Seeing people talk about gentrification, but it HAS BEEN GENTRIFIED. All of a sudden an overpriced uncrustable wakes you up to that?”



 

“Y’all really kicked out our Salvadorian, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Guatemalan vendors from Grand Central that made it what it is today, just to sell some peanut butter & white bread, with a side of gentrification. It’s honestly comedic this point.”



 

Some acknowledge the business-oriented approach visible in the Market. “I understand that to some it seems like this business is gentrifying an area but the truth is that the Grand Central Market is probably more at fault than http://pbj.la for the gentrification. I can’t even imagine how much it costs to own a business in that space.” 



 

Another concurred, “Y’all be ruining neighborhoods just to sell PB&J sandwiches.”



 

However, some feel that the market is not that gentrified and is still the hub of ethnic cuisines. “That looks like a Grand central market which is a series of stalls that includes mom and pop ethnic cuisines and that has been there a long time. It’s also next to the courthouse. Maybe I’m wrong. But this isn’t exactly the worst example of gentrification.”



 

Some feel that people do not know what gentrification is and are citing wrong examples. “I have learned tonight that a good portion of people don’t know what the word gentrification means. It can’t and doesn’t apply to food. Sorry, you’re mad that other people can pay $15 for a high-quality pb&j sandwich at Grand Central Market in LA. Welcome to LA.”



 

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