(Eric Wellman | Photo by Cascade Business News)
A couple of local entrepreneurs are restoring a slice of history amid Bend’s bustling midtown with the launch of Bruno’s 6th Street Market.
Central Oregon bar and restaurant industry veterans Eric Wellman and Trevor Kalberg are bringing back the old-school neighborhood store vibe with easygoing counter-service featuring fresh or take ‘n bake pizzas, salads, deli sandwiches and a range of provisions.
And it is something of a welcome revival, as many longer-term Bendites will fondly recall the location at the corner of Revere and Sixth Street as being the former home of Bruno’s Deli & U-Bake Pizza, which was run by Bruno and Jo Tosi from the late 1970’s until their retirement in 2016.
They ushered in an era of bake-your-own pizzas and calzones to a neighborhood market setting, making it one of the first stores in Bend to provide such a product.
The building was originally built in 1940, and even longer-term residents recall the locale as a popular convenience shop through the 1960’s, in an era when corner stores were more commonplace.
Following the Tosi’s tenure, renowned long-time baker and Culinary Institute of America trained chef Bill Kurzman took over the reins to create Midtown Market, which became known for its artisan baked sweet and savory goods as well as sandwiches.
But when Kurzman himself decided to exit the business earlier this year, Wellman and Kalberg saw an opportunity to step in and restore a beloved neighborhood favorite, in the spirit of the original Bruno’s, with hearty pizza made on-site and snack favorites anchoring an adjoining convenience store.
Now dubbed Bruno’s 6th Street Market, it is thriving again as a community focal point in the style of the New York City center bodega, where a small owner-operated convenience store serves hot and prepared food, is often open late hours and typically features local market influences. Current hours for the Bend landmark’s latest version are 7am-9pm seven days a week.
Wellman and co-owner Kalberg have both been familiar faces in Bend for over two decades, with native Oregonian Kalberg owning popular downtown haunt Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill, where the personable Wellman has been known as daytime bar manager for the last 16 years, following a stint running M&J Bar and Grill.
The two are friends as well as business partners. Kalberg has previous experience running pizza operations and as a resident of midtown himself, is well aware of the area’s growing popularity and appeal.
Wellman said, “Bruno’s is all about serving the neighborhood and bringing people in our community convenient products, so you don’t have to run across town. We also carry a wide selection of beer, wine, snacks, candy, pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, salads, breakfast items and more.
“We only use the best ingredients in our food and want to become known as dedicated to customer service. We believe in quality food at a fair price, stock a range of basic provisions and are open to suggestions about future products people would like to see us carry.
“This is a unique location, and we are excited to bring back the idea of the local market of convenience and corner store charm.”
Bruno’s 6th Street Market offers a full deli, calzones, to-go drinks and multiple pizzas baked fresh in its kitchen’s oven, and as part of the philosophy of fully serving the local community, is open seven days a week from 7am to 9pm, including recently adding breakfast items as part of an extensive “grab and go” line-up.
Business has already been brisk, especially as the principals are well-known and respected in the community, as well as offering a quality product, and Wellman said they were looking forward to more foot traffic as the weather improves.
He added, “I think people are liking the community atmosphere of the market and we want to be a meaningful part of the community.
“This is a great neighborhood. We’re happy to be here, and the neighbors have been wonderful so far.”
Bruno’s 6th Street Market, 1709 NE Sixth St., Bend. Hours: 7am-9pm daily.
brunosbend.com • 541-382-4641