A new generation of owners at Boyle Heights’ “El Mercadito” would like to turn the once-popular market into “something that hipsters are into.”

That’s what owner Tony Rosado, 25, told the Los Angeles Times recently. In a story about the three-story establishment on 1st Street near Lorena –officially named El Mercado de Los Ángeles– Rosado said he would like to attract more tourists and plans to advertise in English to bring in customers from the Westside.

Rosado and his two sisters inherited “El Mercadito” from their father, who died in December. Pedro Rosado, an immigrant from Yucatán, arrived in Los Angeles in 1968 –the same year El Mercado de Los Ángeles was created. The elder Rosado worked as a janitor and truck driver and saved enough money to buy a stall in the market. By 1988 he was able to buy the whole thing.

In a 2013 story, the elder Rosado told Boyle Heights Beat reporter Melissa Martínez that he envisioned the business as a throwback to the markets in his native country. The stalls in the market sell everything Mercadito 6from cowboy boots and belts to a variety of moles and traditional candies. Mariachis play at the restaurants in the third floor, where the walls are covered with paintings that tell Mexico’s history.

“At the market you will find the history of Mexico, the culture of México and, of course, the language and food,” Pedro Rosado told BHB. He added then that his son and daughters were being trained to manage the establishment.

Today stall owners complain that business has dropped as much as 50%, especially on weekdays. The Rosado children are now looking at ways of expanding and adjusting the business to make it more attractive to Latinos of their generation.

Mercadito 3One possibility would be getting a full liquor license (the upstair restaurants only sell beer). Tony Rosado told the Times that he envisions the possibility of tequila tasting events and selling craft beer at a bar.

But eight years ago, neighbors objected when the elder Rosado announced plans to acquire a full liquor license and adding a dance floor and sports bar to the third floor. They said they feared added noise and traffic.

Tony Rosado said that his plans for El Mercadito are not too radical and that he would retain the business’ core.

“We’re going to try and evolve with the tastes of our customers, but at the same time stay true to our identity as an authentic Mexican place,” he told the Times.

All photos by Jonathan Olivares.

5 Responses

  1. -

    My friend said it best: “Instead of trying to appease white people and make this space unsafe for our people, how about these people just focus on keeping the people that usually buy there? There’s a reason customers stopped shopping there and it has everything to do with the new owners and their disinterest in keeping the cultura there intact.
    These new young Latinx owners are assimilating, which is all too common for Latinxs, and you do you boo, gotta survive how we gotta survive. But, this move invites gentrification and displaces our people. So, when your decision affect entire communities, you betta check yourself.”

    say no to gentrification.

  2. Johnny Gonzales

    Think it is good Idea. Upgrade. What noise? It’s an a commercial lot. Boyle Heights needs more business

  3. Erin

    I’m just now catching wind of the situation in Boyle Heights. Preserving heritage, culture and affordable housing is one thing, but discouraging ‘outsiders’ from sharing in the beauty of the community seems counterproductive. Shouldn’t we all be able to enjoy Los Angeles as a whole, rather than dump our energies into segregating it further? There has to be a happy middle ground, where everyone can experience growth while still respecting an entire way of life. I just get awfully concerned when I read that I would not be welcome to explore Boyle Heights if I so chose to. Casual foot traffic of any kind should be welcome, no? It just means small business owners profit from that influx of traffic. Why would younger ‘West Siders’ be a threat to the Latino population in Boyle Heights? It is 2016, we should be showing our political leaders we can live together, not discouraging newer business owners from added income or creating larger racial divides. I agree that developers should be kept at bay if the community as a whole wants to keep the aesthetic of their neighborhood. A neighborhood they have worked hard to create and maintain. But I’m not a developer, a potential homebuyer, nor am I a threat.. Why should I not be afforded the privilege of coming to bars and shops in Boyle Heights? Why has this turned into a racial issue anyhow? It would be a money and greed issue for those trying to change the landscape of the community and price people out of their homes. All I keep hearing on message boards and social media is how white people, artists and hipsters are NOT WELCOME in Boyle Heights. This is very troubling. Someone out there please explain this to me.

  4. Rogelio Ortiz

    Their father envisioned the business as a throwback to the markets in his native country. The children should go back to the native country and get ideas that work in those markets. Good simple Mexican food restaurants, Carnicerias that cut meat to order, fresh vegetables stands, fresh squeezed juices and liquados. Shoe-shine stand, bakery, and everything you need for a pinata party. One thing you won’t find is hard liquor or dance floors. Keep it real!


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