(Above is Viva Market, half-stocked.)
I just scheduled a "sneak peek" at Whole Foods' new Trolley Square store, opening March 14. Wednesday I'm headed over to Emigration Market where Harmons is breaking ground on its renovations to the old store. (Yes, they're keeping the sign.)
And Tuesday I toured my own go-to store at 900 West and North Temple, formerly an Albertson's, and a dingy, depressing one at that, now a Viva Market, part of the Ogden-based chain of Hispanic-oriented grocery stores.
I'm so excited.
This is not your typical white-bread grocery store, the geometric aisles lined with precise placed shelves and the mirror-like floors reflecting the shiny floor contest most grocery store managers are secretly engaged in.
This is a store with Mexican heritage, joie de vivre (I'm sorry, is there a Spanish word for that? Must be...) and soul.
For example: Artist and U of U art prof Jimmy Lucero has been busy with artists Juan Carlos Andrada and Lee Madrid painting murals all over the store. Andrada's version of an Aztec calendar in a Pueblan landscape greets you: Right next to it is a whirling Mexican hat dancer, painted against flat bright blue, like a loteria card.and a dog stealing a steak. "Just like in Mexico," says Lucero.
For example, the produce section is packed with guajillos, poblanos, serranos, jalapenos, tamarind, chayote, piloncillos, anchos and two thousand pound bins of pinto beans.
See, shopping in a Mercado is not the same as shopping in a supermarket. The latter is all about checking things off a list as efficiently as possible. The former is all about seeing your friends, meeting people, enjoyment.
For example, the cafe area has a fountain and picnic tables and the ceiling is festooned with pinatas. There are stacks of Hecho en Mexico Cokes, and coolers full of neon-colored sodas.
But the best example: On Tuesdays, you can get three tacos for a buck.
I am so there.
(And, by the way, Lucero will have a hand in the Trolley Whole Foods, too. He's been asked to work with kids from Bad Dog Arts on the mural by the outdoor dining area. (He also worked with kids on the mosaics under I15 in the Bridges Not Barriers project.)