Local fresh food convenience store comes to downtown Lakeland

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LAKELAND – A convenience store offering locally grown produce and breads is coming to downtown Lakeland in the space occupied since 1986 by the Silver Ring Cafe.

The store, called bodega Market (with a lowercase ‘b’), is the brainchild of the husband and wife team – Yohansi and Amaury Santana – who run Divicious Deli and Coffee Shop, which has been open for eight years on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and main street.

Kate Lake, the owner of the building, which is also home to My Office & More, announced the new store at a morning press conference attended by the Santanas and eight other local officials.

The 1,500 square foot market at 106 N. Tennessee Ave. should open by Thanksgiving. They plan to start renovating the space in early September. The Silver Ring Cafe’s lease expires on August 31. Forgue General Contracting, which has offices at My Office & More, will handle the renovations.

The store will be open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will offer curbside pickup and delivery. It will offer a mix of local and national brands.

“Sandwiches, toiletries, over-the-counter meds. Finally someone says I have a headache and there’ll be somewhere to get one,” Lake said. “They are going to have snacks, fresh bread, cold cuts, fruits, vegetables, juice, milk, frozen food, beer, wine and cigarettes.”

Interior renderings of Bodega Market on North Tennessee Avenue in downtown Lakeland.  The market should open by Thanksgiving.

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“They want to partner with other small businesses to provide fresh bread, fresh produce,” Lake said.

Adding a small grocery store downtown has been a longtime goal of city officials as they push for more sustainable density.

“We have about 1,200 people living downtown today. Our goal is to have about 8,500 people in the next eight years,” Mayor Bill Mutz said. “It’s the most affordable density we can offer the city.”

Lake, who lives downtown, said he recently needed a quart of milk for a friend’s recipe.

“To be able to solve the problem, we had to get in the car, drive a few miles, get off at Publix, go through Publix, get the milk, come back and half an hour later we were ready to eat. This problem must be solved. solved,” Lake said. “We’re solving this problem.

Interior renderings of Bodega Market on North Tennessee Avenue in downtown Lakeland.  The market should open by Thanksgiving.

“Not only are they going to take care of this community that desperately needs this solution. They’re also going to take care of the restaurant community,” Lake said. “It’s not unusual for a restaurant, if they have an immediate increase in something, to run out of something.”

The Santanas opened the first Divicious Deli and Coffee Shop 12 years ago at Lakeland South Plaza on South Florida Avenue, which is also home to the Outback Steakhouse. The downtown location has been open for eight years, said Yohansi Santana. She said they only started thinking about the possibility of opening a market last year “when the opportunity presented itself”.

Interior renderings of Bodega Market on North Tennessee Avenue in downtown Lakeland.  The market should open by Thanksgiving.

“That’s what I grew up with. I’m from New York, so I grew up with bodegas,” she said.

In a press release, Amaury Santana said he “added the word ‘market’ to the name to let non-Hispanics know they will find great products.”

Lake said the Santanas would apply for funding through the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency.

When asked if there was any grocery retail space included in the Oak Street apartment plan, Alis Drumgo, the city’s deputy director of economic development who oversees ARC, said that the space was reserved for a coffee.

“Small businesses are resilient problem solvers,” said Amy Wiggins, president of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. “This is another one of those opportunities for the Chamber to stand up and say that small business meets the needs of the community. We don’t have to look anywhere else to solve our problems in Lakeland. We have those resources, we have that ingenuity.”

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