New downtown store hopes to stock local produce

New downtown store hopes to stock local produce

While a full-service supermarket is still a pipe dream for downtown Baton Rouge, a corner grocery store scheduled to open this spring on Third Street and Florida Boulevard will attempt to fill the void with merchandise that will include fresh produce from local farmers.

That's a far cry from the tobacco and packaged liquor some feared would be the stock in trade of the Corner Grocery when its owners applied for a liquor permit late last year. However, co-owner Michael Matroodnejad and partner Matuz Abusada—who owns Azteca Mexican Restaurant downtown on Lafayette Street—have been meeting since late December with the DDD on developing a base of merchandise that includes farm-fresh products.

"We've been meeting with vendors from the Red Stick Farmers Market and also the Denham Springs Farmers Market and will have products from actual farmers who come from this area," says Matroodnejad, who also owns a small grocery store in Denham Springs. "We will have all your normal fruits and vegetables but also little things from local artisans, as well as breads and Louisiana specialty products."

The merchandise mix is a unique one for the partners and for the area, Matroodnejad says, but DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer says the neighborhood will welcome a venue with fresh, local products.

"I think the concept 'buy local, buy fresh' is a good concept for the area," says Rhorer. "If you've ever been to the Red Stick Farmers Market, you know what kind of crowds it attracts."

Matroodnejad's is among two new upstart businesses downtown that will address the DDD at its monthly meeting on Thursday morning. He says he hopes Corner Grocery will be open sometime in April.

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