A few years back Nazario Estrada was preparing to enter a school for optometry, but life got in the way. His wife Jessica became pregnant with their first child and he realized he had to make a living. Fast. The opportunity came to own the family business, La Michoacana in Lakeland, Florida and he took it. (It is named after the Mexican state of Michoacán on the west coast, about at the same latitude as the Yucatán Peninsula.) Nazario’s parents just didn’t want to run the store anymore. That was 14 years ago.
They also own the Taqueria Michoacana next door, currently staffed by their two employees Ignacio Oseguera and Macedonio Martincalmo, with menu created by Jessica.
The colorful sign on the top of La Michoacana was designed about 10 years ago, but it’s showing some signs of age. Nazario intends to replace it soon, but in this business, there are always other priorities snatching available hours.
Personally, I hope they don’t replace it that soon, because it provides a rustic accent to the building’s facade. The bodega is notable for its colorful use of the Mexican flag in its outer decor, as well as unique touches like a weathered car seat out front and posters for musical events.
The Estradas don’t mind working long hours, because, as Jessica says “you don’t get yelled at” when you’re your own boss. Nazario added that all although the hours tend to be long, “we sometimes take a Tuesday off in a month to unwind and go off somewhere as a family.” They considered ramping up to a bigger bodega once, but “with a bigger place comes more responsibility.” Finally, they have no plans to interest their children in working in the bodega business. “College!” says Nazario.
it’s beautiful Peter. what is really special is how you honor the the folks who own it by sharing their stories. Their life’s work is no less important than another’s. I think you are making history by being the the first person to document these stores and stories that are an essential part of the community. Thank you.