Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal
Mi Rancho Market owner Minerva Pulido plans to construct a new two-story supermarket across the street from her current market on North B Street in San Mateo.
The Mi Rancho Market on North B Street in downtown San Mateo cleared a hurdle with the city’s Planning Commission Tuesday night for a major expansion of the carniceria across the street at the long-vacant Blu-White Laundry & Cleaners site.
Minerva Pulido first opened the 4,000 square-feet market in 1995 when the street only had a couple of shops on it near the Peninsula Italian American Social Club.
The new two-story market at the old laundry site will be 12,000 square feet with a full kitchen and taqueria with 25 parking spaces. Mi Rancho currently has no parking spaces.
“The market could be a much-needed catalyst to begin a redevelopment of the north downtown business district,” Deputy Mayor Robert Ross told the Daily Journal.
The market’s developer, Paulo Hernandez, said, when completed, the market will be one of the most beautiful ethnic markets in the state.
The former dry cleaner site has been vacant more than 15 years and needed the state to approve the demolition since it had some environmental issues such as chemicals in the soil.
The property has been completely remediated now, Hernandez said.
If the City Council approves the project July 15, the laundry will be demolished and construction will start in early 2014.
“I hope to have the market open to the public by Thanksgiving,” Pulido told the Daily Journal.
She is excited to add extra inventory to her shelves when the new store opens to accommodate the demands of the market’s customers.
“More and more customers to the market are from Guatemala and they like to buy products from home,” Pulido told the Daily Journal.
Many customers come originally from El Salvador or Peru and stocking the shelves to satisfy their needs is also a priority.
The neighborhood has become increasingly Hispanic since she first opened the market, she said.
She grew up in the city’s North Central neighborhood when there was only a very small market on B Street near the old City Hall that sold items from Mexico and tortillas.
“Our family had to travel to Redwood City to shop,” she said.
The north end of B Street is home now to several taquerias, a Peruvian restaurant and smaller Mexican markets.
Pulido’s market is too small now to add another register and customer lines get long. It has a full butcher shop now but not a kitchen like some of the smaller markets in the area that serve a brisk lunch crowd.
Pulido had to clear a lot of hurdles with several government agencies considering the state of the soil from the former laundry, the fact it sits atop the San Mateo Creek and is adjacent to the Caltrain tracks.
When she first opened the store, it had four employees. That number is now 25. She plans to add an additional 10 employees when the larger market opens.
This is a second career for Pulido, who retired from the San Mateo Health Services Agency after 18 years of service. She was only 18 when the county hired her and she ultimately went on to help establish the WELL Program, the county’s reduced fee program for medically indigent adults.
Her life is all about North B Street now, however.
The current Mi Rancho is a neighborhood-serving store that attracts residents from the North Central neighborhood. With added parking, she expects to attract customers who do not live nearby with a wide variety of products that cannot be found anywhere else.
A new sidewalk will be built between the new market and the pedestrian bridge near the Caltrain station.
The current market was once three different retail stores and Pulido will lease out the space when Mi Rancho moves across the street.
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