By Michele Laudig
The charming stretch of Gilbert Avenue that runs right through the middle of Gilbert is about to get a lot more interesting with the October 14 opening of Liberty Market.
Restaurateur Joe Johnston and his wife Cindy bought the building a couple of years ago, and have been working on renovating it ever since partnering with chef David Traina (whose resume includes Delux, Cafe Terra Cotta, and working with Roxsand Scocos) and his wife Kiersten. Now, after an overhaul by architect John Chonka -- who also transformed Johnston's family farmhouse into Joe's Farm Grill -- it will be more vibrant than ever.
The original 1935 building has continously operated as Liberty Market, under various owners, since it was built. Combined with a 1959 addition that doubled its size, the entire space is more than 6,000 square feet.
When you walk in, there will be a retail market with salads to go, dry goods, produce, house-baked bread, and more. Next to that, there will be a fast-casual dine-in section, with 100 seats inside and 60 seats outside.
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Johnston installed a Renato wood-fired oven ("the same company who built Bianco's pizza oven," he says) to make pizzas. Liberty Market's menu will also feature sandwiches and hand-tossed salads, beer and wine.
There will be lots of different nooks for socializing, Johnston says, with interesting details such as a zinc-topped pizza bar and zinc-topped espresso bar, a vintage 1965 espresso machine, and French barstools from the '30s.
"When you walk in, it won't feel like you're in Gilbert," Johnston says.