“There’s nothing I love more than a market,” says Suzanne Dumaine. “Anytime I’m traveling you cannot keep me out of a marketplace.” This love has led the longtime recipe developer to open one of her own: Three Owls Market, a small and cozy new shop inside a former bodega on the west side of Manhattan, straddling the West Village and Meatpacking District, opening today.
The ethos behind Three Owls is essentially one-stop shopping. Inspired by places like Barefoot Contessa (a ritzy prepared-foods store and bakery in East Hampton formerly run by Ina Garten, before she was a Food Network star) and Dean and DeLuca, the market seeks to be a place where you can sit down and have a meal and a glass of wine, pick up a quick bite on your lunch break, or stock up on some groceries for the week, sometimes all in the same trip.
“It’s this really wonderful thing where you can stop in and get a beautiful rotisserie chicken, and also get toilet paper and a coffee,” says Dumaine, who feels these types of institutions are dwindling in the city. “It was something I missed personally and I felt would resonate in the neighborhood.” Indeed, while some places may only stock their refrigerated sections with various bottled beverages and yogurts, at Three Owls you can also get items like eggs and, yes, a whole chicken. The shelves offer specialty spice blends and other niche items alongside more standard non-perishable fare.
Sure, the idea of a place where you can get a meal and miscellaneous items isn’t exactly new—you can do it at most bodegas—but Three Owls wants to take it up a notch. Their multifaceted menu was designed by Dumaine in collaboration with their head chef Greer Lou, and was largely inspired by Dumaine’s travels to Europe, particularly Italy.
Rather than your standard lineup of heros and chips, you can expect grain bowls with farro, herbed carrots, cacio e pepe-style snap peas, sandwiches like porchetta and broccoli rabe, a vegetarian chickpea panelle, and a French dip-style sandwich made with roast chicken instead of beef. The morning brings a bevy of breakfast sandwiches, and the countertop is crowned by glass cases of baked goods, from muffins and cookies to the traditional Italian almond cake sbrisolona.
While she’s been formally working on this project for about two years, Dumaine has been building a repertoire of menus and flavor combinations for far longer. Prior to opening Three Owls, she worked as a recipe tester and developer for many years, including co-writing meal kit service Plated’s eponymous cookbook in 2016.
After working behind the scenes in the food world for so long, Dumaine wanted something more intimate and direct. “I found myself really craving those four walls, to make a personal connection with customers and inspire them directly with my food,” she says. “People seem really grateful for a concept like this, and I’m excited to see where it can go.”
Three Owls Market, located at 800 Washington Street, opens today, April 22.