Central American market to open in Mineola

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Central American market to open in Mineola
Elmer Argueta, left, appears before the Mineola Village Board on Wednesday with his lawyer, Bradley Schnur. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

A Mineola man is opening a market selling unique foods from his native Central America.

Elmer Argueta, a 14-year village resident originally from El Salvador, said he plans to open Alex Mini Mart at 21-90 Jericho Turnpike by the end of October.

The shop will carry packaged foods, produce and drinks catering to Mineola’s sizeable Central American population, Argueta’s lawyer, Bradley Schnur, told the Mineola Village Board on Wednesday.

“I see a lot of people from my country and South America, so he can get whatever he needs fast,” Argueta said after the meeting.

The store will occupy a former hair salon space in a small shopping center at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Nassau Boulevard.

The strip mall is also home to the Mineola Deli, which sells hot meals, including some Latino dishes. Argueta said he is friends with the deli’s owner and once tried to buy it, but decided to open his own store after the other storefront opened up.

Mineola’s Hispanic and Latino population has grown in recent years.

Some 21.5 percent of village residents were Hispanic or Latino in 2015, up from 16.4 percent in 2010, U.S. Census data shows. Some 6.6 percent of residents in 2010 were Central American, and 4.8 percent were from El Salvador in particular.

“It’s a good high-traffic location and with the multicultural makeup of the community, he thought that it would be something nice for the community to add,” Schnur said.

Argueta plans to open the store seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with him and his wife as the only employees.

In addition to regular groceries, Argueta said he plans to offer hot coffee and baked goods for breakfast in the morning. But he won’t be cooking like the nearby deli, he said.

The Village Board unanimously approved Argueta’s application for a special-use permit to operate the store on Wednesday after some questions about what he would sell and his early-morning hours.

Trustee Dennis Walsh said offering pastries and coffee for breakfast would put Argueta’s store in more direct competition with the deli and the Subway shop also located in the strip mall.

“Grocery stores that I’m familiar with, and I’m familiar with small grocery stores, don’t usually sell buttered rolls and muffins and the like,” Walsh said.

Danis Argueta, Elmer Argueta’s brother, said the new store will cater to different needs.

“He’s not going to be selling products that the next deli’s selling,” Danis Argueta said. “It’s going to be unique.”

Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira suggested that Argueta reconsider his 6 a.m. opening time once he opens to avoid the risk of disturbing neighbors, as the store might get little traffic during those hours on the weekends anyway.

Danis Argueta said his brother may change the opening time to 8 or 9 a.m.

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