Hey! Hey Day Market is Open

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PHOTO BY HANNAH LESTER / THE OBSERVER

BY HANNAH LESTER

HLESTER@
OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

AUBURN —

The Hey Day Market is open.

Auburn University students and the local community now have access to the nine food options, seven days a week.

Whether you’re craving noodles, pizza, a burger or maybe a salad — the Hey Day Market has you covered. There’s dessert, too — gelato!

Students line up outside the location at 211 S College St. every day ready to try something new or hit up what they’ve already dubbed their favorite. The “most popular” restaurant changes each day, said Hans van der Reijden, founder and CEO of Ithaka Hospitality Partners. Van der Reijden was a part of the formation of the Hey Day Market.

“My pro tip for everybody is just pick the shortest line — everything’s incredible, so go get in a short line,” said Marc Osier, culinary director, restaurants and food halls for Ithaka Hospitality Partners.

There’s Khoodles, Malaysian street noodles, from Los Angeles.

Chef Roy Khoo, originally from Malaysia, played with his own last name to come up with the business name, Khoodles.

“[Khoodles is] really authentic, beautiful Malaysian street fare, basically,” van der Reijden said.

The Khoodles recipe is a family recipe.

“It’s his actual grandma’s recipe,” Osier said.

La Cubanita offers Cuban sandwiches in its stall. In a year, La Cubanita will rotate out to allow for a student startup restaurant.

“This is a Cuban restaurant, so we have Cuban sandwiches and medianoche sandwiches,” Osier said. “… The tradition is, in the middle of the night — medianoche — to have a small sandwich, to take a break while you’re clubbing and discoing in Cuba. Step outside and have a sweet sandwich, and then go inside and keep going.”

Osier said these sandwiches feature a sweeter bread.

Little Darling is the classic American food of hamburgers, cheeseburgers and milkshakes.

However, they also offer some alternative options in black bean burgers and tuna burgers.

The owner of Lucy’s here in Auburn also owns Little Darling.

“[In Hey Day], there’s some local [owners] and some out-of-towners,” van der Reijden said.

If you’re looking for a slightly healthier option, Loud Roots is the place to go.

“Think So-Cal, think Miami Beach,” Osier said. “This is healthy, wellness, craft your own bowls based on your desired nutrition.”

Loud Roots also offers smoothies.

“[They] are not just like a dessert smoothie; although they taste incredible, they’re really wellness-focused,” Osier said.

The owner of Loud Roots is one of those “out-of-towners.” He’s originally from Puerto Rico, and then from Miami, van der Reijden said.

He did, however, previously work in Auburn, so this is a return to The Plains, Osier said.

There’s also the Pizzeria — a sister restaurant of Ariccia in the Auburn University Hotel.

Pokemen opened its second location in the Hey Day Market, but you can find the first one on Opelika Road.

“[The owner] was super excited when I talked to him and ready to jump on board the first time I talked to him,” Osier said.

Wild Child is the second restaurant by the owner of Lucy’s located in the market.

If you’re craving a taco, Wild Child is the place to be with daily fresh ingredients.

PHOTO BY HANNAH LESTER / THE OBSERVER

“A Southern California-inspired taco shop featuring birria and spit-roasted al pastor tacos, a mix of traditional street-style sides like elotes and guac, plus desserts and bebidas,” its online description said.

Cherry Moon had a slightly delayed opening, so it was not up and running when the market opened.

However, it offers Vietnamese and Cantonese food. Bahn Mi Sandwiches, dim sum and boba teas are all on the menu.

St. Bernardo Gelateria offers not ice cream, but gelato. And for many, this will be their first time trying gelato. St. Bernardo will be mobile in the future, with a gelato cart that can be taken around town.

There is a 10th stall — The Bar.

“The bar is going to have everything from beer and wine to frozen cocktails, and then cocktails on draft,” Osier said.

All the chefs and restaurant owners were recruited to the Hey Day Market.

“Our business is all about relationships,” van der Reijden said. “So, the first thing we did was recruited locally. We sent out to all the chefs of all the restaurants here in town and said, ‘Hey, we have this vision for building a food hall, and we would love you to be part of it.’”

However, at the time, in the middle of a pandemic, many restaurant owners were hesitant, van der Reijden said.

After looking local, the team looked a bit further out.

“We went from local to regional, state, to national,” van der Reijden said. “And that’s when we really started to get the traction from places and chefs outside of Auburn, outside of Alabama.”

Students have the option to use their Tiger Cards at the restaurants, but it is also open to the community.

There are other benefits to the space. There is a podcast room set near the doors and in the center of the action.

van der Reijden said the goal was to have the character of the Hey Day Market available to leak into the flavor and vibe of podcasts being recorded.

There’s also a green, outdoor space that will be used for eating space and for lawn games.

“We built this intentionally; well, Auburn University built this, and it was very intentional,” van der Reijden said. “The location — this used to be a parking lot, but we feel this is truly the intersection between campus and community. And to have a place here that’s open to the student body, to the community — you have food options, you have a bar, you have an outdoor function space, soon a brewery, that makes it accessible to everybody.

“We do think that this green space over here will be such a gathering place for everybody. And … during the week, we see about 70% students, right now, 30% local community. On the weekends, it flips. It’s so great. I saw so many strollers in here over the weekend.”

This is the first in a series of 10 featuring the new Hey Day Market.

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