Mayfly Market and Deli opened its doors on Arch Street in Allegheny City Central this past October. It’s part of the growing “mom and pop” store movement in the Northside.
By Nick Eustis
On Nov. 24, America celebrated Small Business Saturday, a national effort for local community members to come out and support their local mom and pop shops—a growing category in the Northside. Mayfly Market and Deli on Arch Street in Allegheny Center is part of the movement.
Last October, Ann Gilligan, owner of Gilligan’s Sorbet, opened Mayfly, choosing the name to emphasize her focus on health and well-being.
“Mayflies are a sign of a healthy river, and there were not mayflies in Pittsburgh for a very long time,” Gilligan said. “So we want to be part of a healthy community and encourage healthy eating.”
Mayfly offers essentials, like milk, eggs and canned goods, as well as fresh produce and bread, baked goods, flowers and Gilligan’s signature sorbet. Mayfly is proud to partner with local Northside businesses for many of these products, including BreadWorks, Commonplace Coffee and Root Seller. The store also partnered with Michael and Yelena Barnhouse of Lola Bistro to provide a deli that serves soups, salads and sandwiches.
Gilligan’s eponymous sorbet business was her first venture into entrepreneurship. She was
inspired by an aunt in California who had started a similar business.
“Five or six years ago, I was looking to do something more creative, and [my aunt] suggested that I make sorbet. So I started making it and sharing it with friends,” Gilligan said.
Gilligan emphasized quality when it came to her sorbet, using natural ingredients and unorthodox flavor combinations, like blackberry darjeeling, avocado lime and cherry
rosemary. Reception was positive, and with that, she decided to start selling on a larger scale.
Gilligan’s now does business with East End Food Co-op, Chateau Cafe and Cakery and
Feast on Brilliant in Aspinwall, in addition to other retailers in the Pittsburgh area.
While the wholesale side of business was successful, Gilligan had always eyed the
idea of a retail space all her own.
“What I really wanted to do is have a retail place for the sorbet, but I could never figure out how I could just sell sorbet and still be profitable,” Gilligan said.
Gilligan explored the possibilities of what could be sold alongside the sorbet to make a more profitable venture.
“I’ve been in other cities where they have a grocery-deli with ice cream stands, and I thought that would be a great combo,” she said. With a concept in mind,
all Gilligan needed was a space to put it in. When Allegheny City Market, one of her sorbet
clients, shut their doors, she found that space.
“This location has been a grocery store since 1895, and the first was that F.W. Hartman,” Gilligan said, gesturing to a slab of wood on the wall engraved with the name.
Since Hartman, the location changed hands several times, becoming, at various stages, Doug’s Market, Allegheny City Market and now, Mayfly Market and Deli. While long term plans aren’t set in stone, Gilligan plans to add seating areas outside the market, as well as continue to build her customer base.
“We’re neighbors, we live here,” Gilligan said. “Our tag says, ‘We’re more than
just a neighborhood market, we’re your neighbors,’ and we really feel that way.”