Just a year into her tenure as the chief executive of the Boston Public Market, Cheryl Cronin has helped cement its presence as a food-source destination. There were 2 million visitors to the market last year, and sales reached about $13.7 million. The high-profile attorney, who served as the general counsel to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and as an adviser to Senator John Kerry, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, takes a politically correct stance when it comes to choosing her favorite vendor. “It’s like asking someone to tell you who’s their favorite child,” she jokes. Cronin spoke with the Globe’s Janelle Nanos about her entry into the food world, and her playful competition with that other, far older, market nearby.
1. After raising three kids in Boston, she’s now an empty nester and loving it.
“My husband and I raised our three sons in Back Bay and both [of us] worked full time. No matter what you do in your life, your life revolves [around] your kids. Now it’s just my husband and I, and it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s you.’ Luckily, we’re very compatible. I bring home things from the market a lot to cook. Recently, my husband and I were talking about all those years of being constantly tired, and I don’t have that anymore. I have more energy now than all those years when my kids were young. More time now and more energy.”
2. She became interested in the food movement through her son’s work.
“My son went to George Washington University and went to work in Washington for a retail food business that specializes in local food. He got me much more focused and interested in local food and paying a lot more attention to what is put in food in order for it to travel. Those extra 10 so-called ingredients that are only in there so that it has a longer shelf-life really diminish the quality and taste of the food.”
3. After facing complaints about the lack of seating options in the market, she found that larger tables made a big difference.
“We just changed the tables in the market, moving away from these small four-person tables. We put in these really big farmhouse tables with benches, and as a result any concerns that were originally raised about seating have gone by the wayside. People end up sitting with people they don’t know, which is great. Sometimes, honestly, it is a relatively small thing that gets an issue resolved.”
4. She’s hoping that the Boston Public Market will soon be as prominent as its nearby neighbor in Faneuil Hall.
“We’ve been open a year and a half. Quincy Market is, what, 200 years old? Considering how new we are, the fact that we had over 2 million visitors in a year is amazing. The Boston Public Market Association is an itty-bitty nonprofit, but we punch well above our weight because we have to.”
5. She’s hoping that the market becomes an anchor for an entire neighborhood.
“We are really excited about the building that is going on around the Public Market. Over the next several years, this area is going to be an amazing residential community. The city is creating a new residential area in what we are calling the market district. The Boston Public Market is uniquely positioned to play a role in the lives of these residents, and it’s going to get better and better.”Janelle Nanos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.