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The Public Market in Lenexa City Center: Where Shopping, Food and Events Abound

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The Lenexa Public Market is a dynamic space in which the community connects around food and where local entrepreneurs have an opportunity to start or grow a business. The idea for the space, located inside Lenexa’s City Hall, came out of the former city manager’s trip to Milwaukee’s public market. Consistent with feedback from citizen surveys over the years that reflected the community’s strong desire for more food options in Lenexa, the idea gained City Council support and took off from there. The Public Market opened in 2017.

“It is city owned and managed, rare among food halls and public markets around the country, which is an important difference and speaks to the level of investment they have in the mission and successful operation of the space,” noted Public Market manager Carmen Chopp. “It is made up of independent businesses with owners who have complete autonomy. With very few exceptions or limitations, they make decisions for their business operation, everything from hours to menu to staffing to promotion. It is truly merchant-driven and has evolved organically since we opened over four years ago.”

A Welcoming Space
The Public Market is located in Lenexa City Center on a civic campus that also houses the Lenexa Rec Center, City Hall and the Lenexa City Center Library, which is part of the Johnson County Library system. With a shared parking garage, one can easily spend the morning or afternoon at this mix of amenities. The campus comes alive for a variety of community events and festivals such as the seasonal outdoor Farmers Market, the Public Market’s live music series, Friday Night Sound Bites and an annual food truck event they call Food Truck Frenzy, among others. Guests can always find something new, fun and exciting going on there.

In early September, Red Kitchen KC opened in a larger space and became an anchor tenant in the Market. What started as simply a tamale pop-up in the kitchen space on the second-floor mezzanine had grown in one of their 100-square-foot incubator food stalls over the last four years to support a more robust operation. Known for her tamales and addictive breakfast burritos, Alejandra de la Fuente, chef and owner of Red Kitchen KC, was ready to launch an expanded menu and hours and excited to treat guests to more of her authentic Mexican street food. 

Something New!
With Red Kitchen KC’s move, an incubator space was made available for one of the Public Market’s long-time pop-up restaurants, African Dream Cuisine, which moved in and opened September 1. Over the last two and a half years of operating in the upstairs kitchen space, giving customers a taste of its West African food and culture, it had grown a consistent and impressive following, and its owners were ready to take the next step.

“Owners Stella Musongong and Neba Ngwa are warm, friendly and fun, and it has been exciting to watch them grow,” Chopp said. “They have everything necessary for success—an amazing product, inviting and engaging personalities and potential for growth.”

A newcomer to the Market, the Tasting Room, opened in mid-August. Owners Keith Spreckels, Jr., Kelly Flowers and Blair Kocher feature their own brand of canned wine, Kaycee Mac, a premium sparkling wine, as well as a variety of wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma. When customers visit, they are treated to a tasting room experience, complete with a variety of meats, cheeses and other complimentary items, and they can purchase wine to enjoy anywhere within the common consumption area. 

“The addition of a wine bar and tasting room has changed the dynamic of the Market. It’s something we have always contemplated and when I met with them, I knew instantly they were the right people to bring this concept to our space. We love seeing customers hang out sipping wine and enjoying a meat and cheese board inside or out by the fire pits.”

Rounding out the selection of food and drink in the Public Market are Mr. D’s Coffee, Topp’d Pizza + Salads, Butterfield’s Bakery & Market and Sohaila’s Kitchen. All are locally owned, serving fresh, scratch-made food. There is truly something for everyone. In addition to food, if you’re looking to grab a quick gift or fresh arrangement of flowers, look no further than The Flower Market. This Lenexa-based business offers fresh floral arrangements and locally made and sourced gift items in a warm, cottage-like space. 

Welcoming Seasonal Activities
Mark your calendar for upcoming and ongoing events such as Sip, Mingle & Jingle, a ladies’ holiday shopping event held the evening of Friday, November 19. “Guests can enjoy music, drinks, food while shopping a number of special merchants with unique, locally made items, so hopefully they can make some progress on their gift list or find something fun for themselves,” Chopp explained.

The Holiday Kid Makers Market, an event in which young entrepreneurs showcase and sell their custom-made items, is set for Sunday, November 21. And if you don’t make it to the holiday events, every Wednesday is Family Night, complete with a rotating selection of free activities for the whole family.

Visit for a full list of merchants and special events.