Mercado San Agustin’s Market Hall opens May 13

May 24, 2011

Shopping starts May 13 in the Market Hall at Mercado San Agustin, 100 S. Avenida del Convento at West Congress Street.

The Market Hall celebrates its opening weekend May 13-15, five years after the Mercado was first envisioned and some three years after most of the merchants committed to the West Side project.

The Mercado has put on a host of events in the past two-some years while the structure was in various phases of rising from the desert floor, most notably the annual Mercado Holiday Bazaar the past three years.

And Taqueria El Pueblito right at the Mercado gateway got a tiny headstart when it opened in February, to the immediate delight of employees at El Rio Community Health Center.

“It’s the best,” said Eleanor Diaz, a registered nurse at El Rio. “It’s across the street from where we work. We’ve been dying for something for years.”

But now, finally, the Mercado comes to life for real on a daily basis behind the arcade of white French doors at the Mercado’s southwest side.

“We really believe Tucson deserves a public market,” said Kira Dixon-Weinstein, the Mercado’s Executive Director. “They’ve been such a wonderful resource in other cities.”

She predicts the Mercado will be a catalyst for a whole market district on the West Side. That’s already proving itself as the Santa Cruz River Farmer’s Market is moving its Thursday market to the Mercado, starting June 16, Dixon-Weinstein said.

She also collaborates with the Microbusiness Advancement Center, which has assisted several of the Market Hall merchants, many of whom are launching their first businesses.

“The Mercado is truly becoming a public market, evident by the partnerships being formed,” Dixon-Weinstein said.

The Market Hall area will feature the everpopular La Estrella Bakery, which is expanding from its South Side flagship and will have a small shop selling its pastries that will be made at the Mercado’s community kitchen.

Indeed, many of the merchants will be crafting their edibles in the on-site community kitchen.

San Agustin Trading Co. owner Jess Aguilar makes moccasins and also sells Native American jewelry.

Holly’s Little Farm features honey crafted by Anthony Tubiolo.

Taxco Silveria has jewelry imported from Mexico by Maria Medina.

Sonora Sno Cones has Maria Robles serving up that hedonistic Mexican pleasure, the raspado.

Dolce Pastello has Samantha Tehran and Aide Almazon producing homemade Mexican style cakes.

Willie Mae’s Bakery will feature Southern style pies, and Margy’s Jams, well, offers up jams.

Alf Taylor will set up a temporary Moroccan rug story until a permanent tenant is found for the Market Hall store space at the north end.

Market Hall hours are 7:00 am to 10:00 pm every day but every individual business sets its own hours.

The Mercado San Agustin is a work in progress, as is evidenced by the notable change of plans for the Congress Street frontage.

Casa Marita Argentino and a Peter Wilke’s corner market are no longer slated as the Mercado’s largest tenants. Dixon-Weinstein said in the coming weeks she will announce a single operator for the restaurant-bar-market space.

“It made more financial sense for us to go with one operator,” she said.

For more information on the Mercado San Agustin please visit their website at www.MercadoSanAgustin.com.

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