Long Vacant Italian Market Lot Gets Converted to Outdoor Dining

Waaaay back in 2011, we pointed out 1009-11 S. 9th St., a surprisingly vacant and (at that time) overgrown lot in the heart of the Italian Market. It was unbelievable that such a thing could exist in this vibrant pedestrian shopping area, and it was all the more frustrating that it looked so awful. We were further surprised when we learned that the property was owned by the Esposito family, which (‘natch) owns the eponymous Esposito’s Butcher shop at the corner of 9th & Carpenter. You’d think that the family would want this property to look great since it’s so close to their business. But alas, it looked pretty much like this for as long as we can remember:

A couple years back

We use the past tense here because the property is no longer vacant. It’s currently being used as an outdoor dining space for the adjacent Alma de Mar. This restaurant opened just a couple months ago after receiving design consultation from the folks at Queer Eye. Unfortunately, all the efforts made inside the restaurant are currently for naught thanks to COVID, but the presence of this long vacant lot next door to the restaurant has surely been a boon. The lot has been paved and sparsely decorated, and the restaurant has set up about ten tables at a responsible social distance.

Current view
Closer look
Alma del Mar

It’s with hope in our hearts that we look toward the future and predict a world where COVID is eradicated and social distancing is a thing of the past. Whether that’s in a year or two or five we don’t know, but when that time comes we’ll be interested to see what happens with 1009-11 S. 9th St. and whether the restaurant continues to use it as outdoor dining space once indoor dining is a thing again. Perhaps the Esposito family will look to sell the property to developers. Maybe they’ll redevelop it themselves. As least for now though, we’ll settle for the current dramatic improvement to the property over its previous condition, and maybe enjoy a meal at Alma del Mar before the weather gets too chilly.