PILSEN — For years, Esmeralda Zaragoza wanted to open a family-owned grocery store with a small butcher shop counter, fresh produce and made-to-order juices and milkshakes.
After passing the “for rent” sign at the closed Carniceria La Huacana’s for months, Zaragoza decided it was her chance to act on her dream.
Last month, nearly a year after making the first call about the space, Zaragoza opened Mi Mandado Carniceria, 2021 W. Cermak Road. She said she hopes to provide a comforting space for Pilsen residents and others venturing into the neighborhood.
“This is exactly how I’ve wanted my store to be,” Zaragoza said.
Mi Mandado offers fresh produce, homemade salsas, sour cream and pastries. The butcher shop has a selection of beef, pork, chicken and chorizo.
At a separate counter, Zaragoza sells made-to-order juices, milkshakes and smoothies, as well as hamburgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos and more.
Zaragoza hopes her emphasis on fresh products will bring locals into her shop and keep them coming back.
Zaragoza worked in sales and marketing for two decades before becoming a business owner. As part of her job, she fell in love with visiting small, family-owned businesses. She adored seeing personal interactions and fostering relationships between business owners and their guests, Zaragoza said.
Zaragoza is using her skills in sales and marketing to stock her shelves, even partnering with neighborhood entrepreneurs to sell their products out of her store.
In the coming months, Zaragoza hopes to open the downstairs kitchen to prepare homemade, to-go meals like soups or prepared chickens.
“This shop gives me so much hope,” Zaragoza said. “I have so many ideas for the future.”
Mi Mandado Carniceria is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
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