Boise’s last neighborhood market reopens with a lunch counter

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Pamela Lemley, left, has lunch with her sister, Meridith Allis, and brother-in-law Bob Allis at Roosevelt Market. Lemley owns the building with his daughter, Jill Simplot.

smiler@idahostatesman.com

David VanHoover walked out of Roosevelt Market with a bag containing a sandwich for him and a salad for his mother.

If you’re used to forgetting sandwiches from the convenience store, dry roast beef, or turkey on an equally dry surface bad bread and wrapped in triangular shaped plastic wrappers, it was not one.

No, VanHoover on Thursday took home $12 Gondolier, made with soppressata, an Italian dry salami; mortadella, a pork sausage; smoked ham; and provolone cheese. Coated in olive spread and topped with a pepperoncini, a sweet pepper. If that wasn’t enough, the sandwich was wrapped in crispy ciabatta bread from Acme Bakery in Garden City.

“I don’t really like sauces very much, but I really like what I have on this one,” VanHoover said in an interview.

After being closed for seven months, the Roosevelt Market at 311 N. Elm Ave. reopened on March 31 under new management. Lizzy and David Rex, who operate The Wylder pizzeria in downtown Boise and Certified Kitchen + Bakery in Hyde Park, are the new owners.

The Roosevelt Marketan East End staple and the last of Boise’s independent neighborhood markets, opened in 1918 but has seen closings and openings in recent years.

VanHoover grew up in the neighborhood north of Warm Springs Avenue and east of Pioneer Cemetery and has fond memories of the market in one of its earliest incarnations.

He remembers going after school and paying a penny for a mini Tootsie Rolls. “You could come in with a dollar and have Tootsie Rolls for a month.”

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The Roosevelt Market, originally built in 1900, was rebuilt in 2020. It is located in the historic East End district, north of Warm Springs Avenue. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

Today, he still lives less than two blocks away and walks to the store.

“If we ever need any of the basic essentials, it’s here,” he said. “You don’t have to have a car to go to Whole Foods to get some milk.”

Lizzy and David Rex, owners of The Wylder pizzeria in downtown Boise and the Certified Kitchen + Bakery in Hyde Park, are the new owners of the market.

The store is across from Roosevelt Elementary School, which was built a year after the Roosevelt Market was established. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“Roosevelt Market has always been a bit of a neighborhood hangout,” David Rex said by phone. “So we make coffee in the morning, we make five sandwiches and five salads for lunch, soft serve ice cream, beer and wine and simple groceries.”

Building owners Jill Simplot and her mother Pam Lemley bought the building in 2017. The market closed in late 2018 when then-owners Susan Wilder and Nickie Monroe retired after nearly 15 years.

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The Gondolier is one of five $12 sandwiches offered at Roosevelt Market. It’s stacked with soppressata, an Italian dry salami, bologna pork sausage, smoked ham, provolone cheese, olive spread and pepperoncini. It’s wrapped in a crispy ciabatta roll from Acme Bakeshop. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

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A $12 seasonal salad includes snow peas, cucumbers, cabbage, radishes, baby spinach, goat cheese and green goddess dressing. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

Simplot, the daughter of JR Simplot Co. CEO Scott Simplot, and Lemley, the widow of Jack Lemley, an engineer renowned for repairing the ailing Chunnel tunnel in England, then rebuilt the store in the historic quarter of ‘East End.

Sarah and DK Kelly, who operated the former Bleubird sandwich shop in downtown Boise and now run Small 4 on the Boise Bench, had planned to operate the Roosevelt Market, but their plans changed in 2019.

The market reopened a few months last year but closed until the Rex family reopened it.

“It looks a bit like a bar disguised as a small neighborhood market,” David Rex said. “The idea is that we layer things as we go. We opened up pretty simple, but there’s a lot we can do. It’s just going to take us a bit of time.”

Simplot and Lemley still own the two-story, 1,840 square foot building with 1,389 square feet of store space. Rex said the building is important to Simplot and Lemley for its place in the neighborhood. Rex said he and his wife shared that vision.

“People come in and no one is really in a rush,” he said. “It’s a natural place where people meet after mountain biking. The children come after school and buy sweets and ice cream.

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Wines line a wall inside the Roosevelt Market, located at 311 N. Elm Ave. in Boise. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

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Products for sale include bananas, oranges, apples, onions and garlic. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

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A stall in Roosevelt Market offers candy, produce, breads and snacks. The market, with tables and chairs for customers to eat and drink, recently reopened under new management. Sarah A.Miller smiler@idahostatesman.com

Jolie Lickley, who lives about a mile and a half from the store, joined three of her friends for lunch on Thursday. It was her first visit to the market since it reopened and she said she was impressed. Sitting at one of the many tables, she chewed a $12 East Ender: Turkey, Dill Havarti Cheese and Spicy Honey Mustard, also on Acme Ciabatta Bread.

“It’s a wonderful thing for our neighborhood and the East End community,” Lickley said.

Her friend Amanda King said the market gives the neighborhood a vibe similar to that found in Hyde Park on 13th Street in the North End.

“I think it’s really important that we have at least a little landmark where you can stay in your neighborhood,” she said.

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An advertisement for the Roosevelt Markert in the May 24, 1949, edition of the Idaho Statesman offered “the best in meat, groceries, and fine fruits and vegetables.” Idaho Statesman Archives via Boise Library

Journalist John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013, covering business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon. If you enjoy seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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