The first thing you notice when entering the River Street Market in Hyde Park, MA are the intriguing sweets for sale. Cookies like Crema Leche (milk cream), Coco Blanco (white coconut), Coquito Milton (spiced coconut), and Coco Dulse de Leche (sweet milk coconut). Masa Real pastries filled with guava paste. These popular treats come from the Dominicana Bakery in Lawrence, MA and Tito’s Bakery in Chelsea, MA.
Eighteen years ago owner Ruby Portillo came from Caracas, Venezuela, where she’d previously owned a supermariet. She left Venezuela shortly after her husband died tragically in an auto accident. “Had he not lost his life,” she said, “I probably wouldn’t have come here.”
What did the place look like when she purchased it? “Not so good. I redesigned the outside, told the painters what to do, changed the sign, changed everything. Except the name, of course.”
How does she feel as a woman owning her own business, in a field traditionally dominated by men? “It’s not so bad. I work here many hours every day, and sometimes the people are trouble, particularly when it’s noisy. Most of the time it’s okay. I do like owning this business.”
The Bodega Project is fascinating. The lives behind the storefronts each have a story worth telling and learning from. Bravo!!!