80ºF

Local restaurants turn dining areas into pop-up grocery shops

Mi Tierra, Sangria on the Burg, and La Panadería among restaurants make the switch during COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – You can avoid the long lines and empty shelves at your neighborhood grocery store by shopping local.

Neighborhood grocery stores aren’t the only place with eggs, toilet paper, milk and sanitizing wipes.

Restaurants across San Antonio have turned their dining rooms into pop-up markets to help meet the demand from the community during the COVID-19 partial shutdown.

Pete Cortéz, with Mi Tierra Café and Bakery, is open for to-go and curbside pickup options for meals but not enough orders have been placed to keep a full staff employed. With the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order in effect and resources at-risk of going to waste, Cortéz decided to make the temporary switch to a grocery store.

Mi Tierra launched its Mi Mercado Pop-up Shop to serve families in quarantine.

“We were trying to think about all the things that we already had in inventory and things that we could put out on the shelves,” Cortéz said.

Blue tape-markers help customers maintain the CDC spacing regulation of 6-feet apart while they wait in line to begin shopping. Designated personal shoppers are the only ones allowed to touch the carts or grocery items throughout the store.
Blue tape-markers help customers maintain the CDC spacing regulation of 6-feet apart while they wait in line to begin shopping. Designated personal shoppers are the only ones allowed to touch the carts or grocery items throughout the store. (KSAT 12)

Blue tape markers help customers maintain the CDC spacing regulation of six-feet apart while they wait in line to begin shopping. Staff from Mi Tierra have shifted their normal work duties to become personal shoppers, stockers or car loaders.

Designated personal shoppers are the only ones allowed to touch the carts or grocery items throughout the store. They’re all instructed to wear gloves to eliminate direct contact with items and keep customers and co-workers safe.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be able to stay stocked every day, but the other blessing, really for us, is that we have over 700 employees,” Cortéz said. “This has given us an opportunity for everybody to come back to work.”

A big supply of bread, dairy products including eggs, soups, household items and much more can be found throughout the pop-up shop, but people also started asking for pre-cooked meats like carne guisada and picadillo, pan dulce or sweet bread and even fresh tortillas.

“They would touch (the fresh, large tortillas) and say, ‘You know what, give me two,'" Cortéz said.

Mi Tierra’s Mi Mercado Pop-Up Shop has also launched a website for curbside orders to make it easier for seniors and healthcare professionals.

“We started opening from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m just for first responders and health care professionals,” Cortéz said.

La Gloria also launched its pop-up shop, La Gloria Grocery Market at Pearl. It’s open all week from noon to 5:00 p.m. and only accepts credit and debit card payments.

According to its Instagram account, first responders and medical professionals will have daily dedicated shopping hours from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. A work ID must be presented to access La Gloria’s grocery market during those hours.

La Panadería launched its “Support Locals Basket” this week that, according to their Instagram, directly helps support their staff. The kit costs $25 and includes items such as eggs, bread and milk. Orders can be made online at lapanaderia.com for curbside pickup or delivery within a three mile radius from the store.

Cesar Zepeda, owner of Sangria on the Burg, says they’ve also pushed all dining tables and chairs aside to make room for the $25 three-day quarantine pack.

“The pack has four rolls of toilet paper, has a gallon of milk, has 15 eggs, five pounds of rice and five pounds of beans,” Zepeda said.

Sangria on the Burg is selling their $25 three-day quarantine pack that includes four rolls of toilet paper, a gallon of milk, 15 eggs, five pounds of rice and five pounds of beans.
Sangria on the Burg is selling their $25 three-day quarantine pack that includes four rolls of toilet paper, a gallon of milk, 15 eggs, five pounds of rice and five pounds of beans. (KSAT 12)

Bill Miller BBQ is also working to help provide supplies to those in need during the COVID-19 quarantine.

According to a tweet, Bill Miller restaurants are offering half-gallon whole milk cartons for $3 each.

Every customer is limited to two cartons while supplies last, according to the tweet.

These pop-up shops are doing their best to offer what’s continually wiped off the shelves at neighborhood grocery stores.

“I didn't think there'd be a problem, but our suppliers are running out (of products) as well,” Zepeda said. “Even if we put an order in, we're not guaranteed our product. Our suppliers are running out as well and prices are going up.”

Something these local restaurants promise not to run out of during this trying time is hope. They hope that COVID-19 will soon come to an end.

“Because we're open 24 hours a day, Mi Tierra is sort of like a candle that never goes out,” Cortéz said. “We don't want to see it turned off so, we're just trying to do the best that we can during this difficult time.”

To place an order online at Mi Tierra’s Mi Mercado Pop-Up Shop and schedule a pick-up time, click here.

More information on La Gloria Grocery Market at Pearl can be found on their Facebook post here.


About the Authors: