Encore July 2015

Page 20

Savor encore

Culinary Kalamazoo

Five food finds at Tienda Guatemalteca La Costeñita Tiffany Fitzgerald

Brian Powers

Brian Powers


The greater Kalamazoo area has a number of small grocery stores, each with a unique offering of foods and finds. This series takes a look at those stores and the unique foods savvy shoppers can discover at them.

Carlos Cardona and Sandra Lopez lived in Grand Rapids for 17

years before deciding to open a grocery store in Kalamazoo in 2008 — Tienda Guatemalteca La Costeñita, at 2111 S. Burdick St. During the store’s first year, the husband-and-wife team commuted 45 minutes to run the store, originally located on Portage Street. “Our friends in Kalamazoo really pushed us (to open a store here),” Cardona says. “They kept telling us to open a store here because

20 | Encore JULY 2015

Among the unique foods found at Tienda Guatemalteca La Costenita are spice mixes specific to South American and Caribbean cooking and piloncillo, a cone of pure, unrefined cane sugar.

there was only one Mexican store in the Kalamazoo area, and with no competition, if the prices in the store are high, there’s really no other choice.” Cardona and Lopez, who are originally from Guatemala, stock foods in their store from many countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean to accommodate different regional tastes. “People from different countries like different things. People from Cuba like green bananas, for example, Mexicans love hard corn tortillas