EUGENE, Ore. — When Tiffany Norton and Mark Kosmicki walk into the Corner Market, sometimes they know what they’re after, sometimes they don’t.
“A lot of times on Mondays we might not know what our menu is and we’ll come here and see what she has,” explains Kosmicki, one of the owners of Party Cart. “That definitely shapes our menu.”
On the Thursday I shadowed them, they found inspiration in a batch of Asian pears suggested to them by market owner Penny Tyrrell. As the group sampled the fruit, it became clear Kosmicki was a fan.
“We’re going to do an Asian pear pancake for breakfast this weekend,” said Norton, Party Cart’s other co-owner, “because they’re so good.”
The way Norton and Kosmicki tell it, everything at the market is good.
“It’s just really high-quality local produce that’s available all week long for us,” Norton said. “That’s the highlight.”
Tyrrell started the Corner Market more than four years ago. It began as a small farm stand at the south end of River Road, selling extra produce out of her garden. As interest grew, so did the space available to Tyrrell. She moved into the building where the market is now a couple years ago.
“A lot of farms call me and say ‘I have this’ or ‘I have that,” said Tyrrell about how she now sources the market. “Everybody’s interested in local food and people really want it here.”
The market draws in the typical customer base, but is also a favorite of local restaurants.
“Marche, Ox & Fin, Activation Foods, Holy Cow …,” Tyrrell listed. “I have a lot of food cart people come.”
“It’s good for us because we don’t have the space to buy cases and cases of things,” Kosmicki said. “So we can come here every day if we need.”
Some weeks he and Norton do come here every day, but typically they only make a visit or two. Those stops — along with those to the Lane County Farmer’s Market and the farms themselves — are what help Party Cart source nearly all of its ingredients locally.
Said Norton: “We’re striving to be 100 percent, but really probably 95 percent or so.”