Hispanics already make up 16 percent of the U.S. population and are poised to increase to 30 percent by 2050, according to the U.S. Census.
Plenty of companies have capitalized on this growing market, including Lola’s, which opened in Santa Rosa in 1992. Since then, the company has expanded with locations in Healdsburg and Napa, and this September, in Petaluma’s Plaza North.
For the uninitiated, a trip to Lola’s Market is like walking into a well-stocked Mexican bodega and an outdoor market, all at the same time.
Looking for chili peppers to make a fresh salsa? There are more than 10 to choose from. How about chayote, a spiny green vegetable used in Mexican soups, or cactus, with the thorns removed, for a salad?
They’re all here, along with an impressive selection of fresh cheeses, meat, fish and pan dulce, crumbly pastries that are baked right on the premises.
Veronica Flores is the enthusiastic assistant manager of the Petaluma store and she proudly takes a reporter on a tour, pointing out interesting vegetables (hawthorne apples, tamarind, guyaba) along with traditional cookware such as grind stones, tortilla makers and comales, griddles used to prepare everything from meat to tortillas.
“We are always trying to focus on the Latino market, but also offer many items that the general public wants,” says Flores, adding that the store also carries Salvadoran and Peruvian selections.
Founder and CEO David Ortega calls the mix of traditional Hispanic foods and American brands “cross-cultural consumerism”, and apparently it’s a winning formula for the North Bay retailer. Petaluma is its fifth location.
In addition to a vast produce section, there is a café where patrons can enjoy everything from tacos to carnitas and mole, as well as a deli where items like fresh guacamole, ceviche and salads can be purchased. Lola’s also offers catering.
Lola’s Market is located at 241 North McDowell Blvd. Petaluma, CA 94954. Phone: (707) 762-2112
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