Thousands welcome opening of Portland Mercado on Foster Rd

Find out why so many are excited about this project that turned a FoPo used car lot into a Latino marketplace …

People from all over outer East Portland come to the Foster-Powell area for the Portland Mercado Grand Opening.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It did take a little longer than expected for Hacienda Community Development Corporation to turn a used car lot along the border of Mt. Scott-Arleta and Foster-Powell neighborhoods into the vibrant, new Portland Mercado, but the job is done.

> Read our story about the groundbreaking held on May 15, 2014: CLICK HERE.

Although they’d had a “soft opening” for about a week before it became official, the corner of SE Foster Road at 72nd Avenue was teeming with as many as 3,000 people drawn to the Portland Mercado grand opening on April 11.

As the Portland Mercado Grand Opening gets underway, people line up to sample foods from out of Latin America.

Amalia Vasquez and Alejandra Gonclaec of Tierra del Sol serve an order of Talayudas, traditional cuisine from Oaxaca, Mexico.

The grand opening offered nineteen new full-time businesses to the area, revealed Hacienda Marketing Coordinator Jamie Melton. “We’re welcoming families and people of all backgrounds and ages to attend this monumental day, featuring the flavors, sights, and sounds of a Latino public marketplace.”

Some people stood patiently in the seemingly never-ending line to get a free gift card for future shopping and dining at the Mercado. Many others purchased snacks and lunches from one of the eight new colorfully-painted food carts parked on the lot.

The rhythmic drumming, colorful costumes, and traditional dances of Mexica Tiahui Aztec Group kick off the grand opening ceremony.

And, the dances and drumming by the Mexica Tiahui Aztec Group, which kicked off the afternoon festivities, drew a true standing-room-only crowd.

Inside the Portland Mercado building, General Manager Manuel Marin-Foucher Gomez was all smiles as he welcomed new customers.

Happy about the big turnout on opening day is Manuel Marin-Foucher Gomez, General Manager of Portland Mercado.

“This is a wonderful, amazing day,” Marin-Foucher Gomez told East Portland News. “We could not be doing better than to see all of this support for our project from the community.”

Marin-Foucher Gomez recalled that this project has been five years in the making. “A previous Hacienda executive director had a vision of having a place where Latino entrepreneurs could develop, and then formalize, their business. We started the ‘Micro Mercantes’ program, our multicultural incubator, which shows people how to ‘do it right’. That is, learning how to get appropriate certifications, and licensing, and learn how farmers markets work.

“This has evolved from helping people set up a little stand at a farmers market, into this that we have here today,” he said.

Enjoying lunch are Angel and Addiel Palomo.

Faviola Venezuela and Rogelio Cortez of “Fruit Box Snack Bar” do a brisk business.

The food carts, Marin-Foucher Gomez pointed out, represent foods from regions of Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, and El Salvador. “Inside, we have seven retail businesses, including a butcher shop, a snack bar, a beer and wine shop, a grocery store, and a Mexican-style candy shop. All of the products and businesses here are Latino themed.”

Micro Mercantes Program Coordinator Caitlin Burke gives a tour of their new commercial kitchen.

Guests were also given tours of the new certified commercial Micro Mercantes’ Kitchen, and also the office space used by an insurance agency, an Intercultural communications company, and a sign maker.

“This is very good, happy day here,” Marin-Foucher Gomez said, looking over a sea of smiling faces that crowded in and around the Portland Mercado.

Thousands of people come to welcome Portland Mercado to the neighborhood.

Portland Mercado
7238 SE Foster Road
9 a.m. until 9 p.m.; seven days a week
www.portlandmercado.com
www.facebook.com/portlandmercado

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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