Supermarket Acapulco Tropical hummed busily Wednesday morning. Pots and cooking utensils clinked as the market’s kitchen staff prepared the day’s food, and registers opened and closed with each new transaction. The air smelled of fresh produce, herbs and tortillas, which are made in-house.
Acapulco Tropical, 3525 First St. E., has been a fixture in Manatee County since 2005 with its food, meat, produce and products from Mexico and other parts of the world.
In just two months, owners Joey Leyva and her sister, Ana Leyva, are poised to open a second location at 5612 14th St. W. The market was started by their parents, who handed over the responsibility to the sisters a few years ago.
“The decision to open the second store really came through our customers throughout the years,” Joey, 34, said as she sat in the store’s eatery with clouds of steam billowing from the kitchen nearby. “A lot of people asked ‘Why don’t you put something bigger? Why don’t you move this Acapulco because it gets really crowded?’ You can’t just move a store, so we decided, ‘OK, we have to open another store.’ ”
We have the same things that Acapulco made great, but with a little bit extra of the American flavor because we were raised here.
Ana Leyva, co-owner of Acapulco Tropical
The new 15,000-square-foot building is under a complete reconstruction and Joey Leyva estimates costs and expenses around the project to total around $1 million. Leyva said they looked for potential locations all over the area and liked one in Sarasota, but ultimately decided to stay in Bradenton because of an increase in other companies near Sarasota ordering catered food from Acapulco Tropical.
“I’m really excited because our customers have demanded that, and I think it’s going to attract a lot more customers from the Sarasota area and it’s going to bring a bigger American clientele to us,” she said. “Because when we initially started this store, maybe 50 percent of our customers were Mexican. But now it’s maybe 30 percent. It’s a new adventure for us. It really is.”
The new store will feature a different layout but will have everything the original location has except for the tortilla machine.
Leyva’s sister, Ana, described the expansion as a great step.
“The new store has a new concept — one thing is my mom’s generation and then our generation, so we’re very excited how our customers are going to take it,” she said. “We have the same things that Acapulco made great, but with a little bit extra of the American flavor because we were raised here.”
The decision to open the second store really came through our customers throughout the years. A lot of people asked ‘Why don’t you put something bigger? Why don’t you move this Acapulco because it gets really crowded?’
Joey Leyva, co-owner of Acapulco Tropical
The cooked food offered at the new 14th Street West location primarily will be Mexican, but the Leyva sisters plan on adding a few Caribbean-influenced items as well. They also plan on bringing oxtail to the menu to cater to their Asian customers, part of their overarching plan to be more inclusive.
On Wednesday, Jose Lara, of Oneco, sat back in a chair waiting for his order of carne asada tacos. He said he has been coming to Acapulco Tropical ever since its doors opened more than a decade ago.
“It’s the best,” he said.
After purchasing pork cracklings, tomatoes and other ingredients, 70-year-old Raquel Ambriz walked to her car. The Bradenton resident has been a loyal customer for years.
“Everything I want, I find here,” Ambriz said in Spanish. “From pazote (Mexican tea) to herbs ... everything I need.”