When Medina's Grocery & Restaurant opened 36 years ago on the corner of Bumby Avenue and Washington Street in Orlando, owner Rafael Medina remembers there was only one other Hispanic grocery store in the area.
"And that went out of business," Medina
said on a recent afternoon while he
was strolling his
bodega's cramped aisles stocked with Cuban crackers, bottles of mojo marinade and bags of rice and dried beans.
Now, the Orlando landscape is dotted with Hispanic grocers including supermarkets more than four times the size of Medina's
corner store.And with big players such as Publix and Wal-Mart
getting into Hispanic foods, it would only stand to reason that Medina
would be a bit concerned about being pushed aside.But he's
"It doesn't worry me at all," he
said."I have many, many loyal customers." Medina
grocery store and adjacent restaurant as more than just a store.It's a gathering place where friends and neighbors in the community can talk politics or catch up on old times while sipping Cuban coffee.
quick to point out that his
store offers certain homespun touches that are hard to find at the larger markets, such as fresh baked Cuban bread and a sugar-cane machine that makes fresh cane juice.
"We have more of a family appeal," he
said.That, Medina hopes, will keep his
little market afloat amid a sea change in the area's Hispanic grocery business.