When Ann Gilligan soured on her corporate job, she decided to pursue a sweeter career.
Five years ago, she started making sorbet using fresh, local ingredients and her aunt’s recipes. Since then, Gilligan has sold her frosty treats wholesale to local retailers, and now has a home base where she can sell by the scoop.
Mayfly Market & Deli opened last month at 1327 Arch Street in the North Side.
Gilligan, a resident of the neighborhood for 20 years, pounced on the location when the former tenant, Allegheny City Market, closed its doors. She is partnering with other local businesses such as Axel’s Pretzels, Black Market Jerky, Pittsburgh Pickle Co., La Prima Espresso, Pigeon Bagels and many others to give customers a wide choice of eats and treats.
In addition to offering five seasonal varieties of sorbet, Mayfly sells fruits and vegetables, pastries, bread, coffee, fresh flowers, and staples such as milk, eggs, canned goods and household products. There’s also a deli counter for to-go soups, salads and sandwiches.
The deli menu is spearheaded by Michael and Yelena Barnhouse, who run nearby Lola Bistro.
Current favorites include Indian Dal, a red lentil stew with sweet potatoes and tomatoes, spiced with turmeric, chili and ginger, a roasted red pepper salad with pine nuts and golden raisins on a bed of mixed greens, and an Italian hoagie piled high with Genoa salami, capicola and soppressata, plus house-pickled peppers and provolone.
Gilligan says she chose the name Mayfly after swatting away the little pests during a Pirates game last spring.
“They were always around,” she says, “but then I heard that the fact that we were seeing them meant that the river was healthy again. I just kept coming back to it as a symbol of a healthy river and a healthy community.”
Although her sorbet is dairy-free and low in calories, Gilligan says the business isn’t a health food store. It’s designed to be a place where folks can pick up a convenient bite to eat. There is no seating, but people are welcome to stand and socialize.
In the summer, she plans to open a patio area and add more local vendors to the list.
As the North Side changes, Gilligan hopes to welcome both new residents and lifers to Mayfly and to capitalize on the foot traffic generated by her very colorful and eclectic neighbor, Randyland, just one block north on Arch Street.
“The whole idea,” she says, “is to be a very welcoming place you would feel good coming to and coming back to.”