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Bloomingdale Latin Market Specializes in Fresh Meat, Hard-to-Find Foods

Catering to residents, the new market on Bloomingdale Avenue offers Latin foods, fresh meat and a deli with take-home meals.

At this grocery store, shoppers won't have to wait in long checkout lines, scour countless aisles for that special ingredient or wonder whether the cucumbers are fresh.

Carlos Garcia, owner of the Bloomingdale Latin Market, says, while his store in Kings Row shopping center isn't as large at the supermarkets people are accustomed to visiting, it offers advantages that the chain grocery stores simply can't match.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Garcia was lured to Florida from Massachusetts by the warm weather and an offer from his partner, William Soto, to open an ethnic market.

"It sounded like a great business opportunity," said Garcia, who runs the store with his wife, Millie, and manager Jose Trejo.

"It's a family atmosphere here," he said. "And we treat our customers like they are members of our family."

Bloomingdale Latin Market specializes in hard-to-find imported products from various Latin American countries, something Garcia said is in demand in this mixed neighborhood with people from Peru, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

"We give them a taste of home," he said. "We have products they can't find anywhere else in this area."

However, Garcia said his customers aren't limited to people with a Hispanic heritage.

"People from all backgrounds come here because the meat and produce are quality, and we offer cooked foods that my wife makes fresh every day," he said.

For the convenience of residents seeking a quick, easy meal to take home, the deli features Cuban and Caribbean rice, pulled pork, black beans, Cuban picadillo, empanadas, potato balls, made-to-order Cuban sandwiches and the market's top-seller, homemade pork rinds.

Garcia said residents won't find fresh meats at better prices.

The market cuts its own beef, pork and poultry.

"It is top quality," he said, pointing out some thick-cut ribeye steaks for $4.99 a pound.

Shoppers can also find some more unusual offerings at the meat counter including cow and pig feet, tripe, oxtail and goat meat.

In addition to fruits and vegetables purchased from local farmers, Garcia also sells more exotic produce including Dominican eggplant, panapen (a breadfruit from Puerto Rico) and chayote, a pear-shaped squash from South America.

The dairy shelves are stocked with South American cheese including Queso fresco and flan while an entire aisle is devoted to Latin American spices.

Residents also can purchase such items as grandules (pigeon peas) and Cafe Pilon.

"If we don't have it, we can order it," said Garcia. "We treat our customers right and keep everything clean and fresh."

Bloomingdale Latin Market is located at 861 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, two doors down from Big Lots. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

For information, call 813-689-9977.

D'Ann White October 12, 2012 at 01:17 PM
A special thanks to Rick Tauceda for the awesome photos.

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