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Complaint prompts closure of farmers market near Las Vegas Strip

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Leila Navidi

Eric Sanchez of Henderson holds up his eight-month-old nephew Knox Silva during Molto Mario’s Farmer’s Market in Las Vegas Thursday, September 16, 2010.

Molto Vegas Farmer's Market

Pears from Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas for sale during Molto Mario's Farmer's Market in Las Vegas Thursday, September 16, 2010. Launch slideshow »

UPDATE (2-9-2011): Clark County officials say they never told Molto Vegas operators to shut down; the market could have continued to operate under a special-use permit while seeking a formal business license. Find an updated story with the county's response here.

Hundreds of would-be produce shoppers were turned away empty handed this morning as one of Las Vegas’ only farmers’ markets shut down over Clark County zoning issues.

According to one of its coordinators, Molto Vegas farmers market was ordered by Clark County officials to temporarily shut down until concerns over business-license classification can be sorted out.

After this story was initially published, Clark County representative Dan Kulin clarified that, to hold a weekly wholesale distribution and farmers market there, Molto Vegas would need a business license and a special-use permit. While applying for that, they could operate with a special-event permit, Kulin said.

“We would allow them to continue to operate,” stressed Kulin.

“We’re in a sticky situation,” explains Doug Taylor, a coordinator of the market and the executive pastry chef for Mario Batali’s Vegas restaurants. “We’re not a grocery store. We’re more than a seasonal farmers’ market because we operate year-round. They are trying to figure out what exactly we are.”

The market typically opens at 11 a.m. and offers dates, peppers, herbs, melons, fresh tomatoes and more—most of which is produced in or around Southern Nevada. Prior to the public opening, the market also delivers to about 20 local restaurants including some of the Strip’s most respected eateries.

Molto Vegas has operated every Thursday for approximately two years inside a portion of Batali’s dry-aging facility, located on Dean Martin Drive. Taylor says no concerns over zoning laws and business license have previously been raised, and that today’s issues were prompted because the county received a complaint, the details of which he does not know.

“We’re doing this for the benefit of the community,” says Taylor. “We donate the space and the time. It brings culture, and we’re helping chefs. I’m not sure who would have ill will against us, but it doesn’t matter why it happened. We just want to get this sorted out.”

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