Residents of Old Orcutt got an early Christmas present Wednesday when Old Town Market’s new owners held a soft reopening, even as they set up the cash registers and greeted residents who dropped in to see if it was true.
The brothers who purchased the business said it will be awhile before the market is fully operating, as it still lacks some sections like produce after a remodeling project that moved the cash registers to the front wall to open up more space for shelves.
They noted the renovations also uncovered a bit of history — the interior surface of the original 1940s-era market’s front wall that had been covered by a façade.
“This is history right here, so we’re trying to save it,” said Sam Fidel, who bought the property at 405 E. Clark Ave. with brothers Tony and Nabil.
The wall has now been painted red, the old window frames have been removed and the exterior siding has been painted light brown to give it the appearance of a barn.
It’s an appropriate look, since it’s right next to where the produce section is planned.
The brothers are not newcomers to the food business, having started out in 2007 with 7 Stars Food Store at Blosser and Stowell roads in Santa Maria before adding Sr. Taco next door.
They also own Family Market on North V Street in Lompoc and two restaurants serving Mediterranean-style food — Hapy Bistro on Oak Park Boulevard in Pismo Beach and Santa Ynez Café on Alamo Pintado Road in Solvang.
Their experience with restaurants will play into their plans for the interior of Old Town Market, where they want to someday install a food court next to the produce section.
"We want to bring a little bit of our restaurant food here,” Fidel said.
If things work out, they might even reconfigure a portion of the market again so people can grab something at the food court, pay for it and go right out to an exterior seating area to eat it.
But that’s all in the future. For the present, they just want to get the market up and running, get to know the community and find out what local people want to see on the store’s shelves.
“We are a local, family-owned business,” Fidel said, adding they want to be part of the community.
They already have been active for years supporting the nonprofit Santa Maria Police Council, particularly through its annual fundraising golf tournament.
Residents who found out about the market reopening on Facebook posted messages of congratulations and thanks, expressing their excitement at having a local market again after it closed in early December.
“Happy dance!!” posted Gisèle Jolie. “I’ve been missing our quick runs to the market for missing ingredients! And our after-school snack run.”
“I know this family for years, they are local family (and have by far the best food on the coast),” posted Rick Milanesa.
“Congratulation, if you guys can do for the downtown Orrcut area what you guys did for Arroyo Grande with Hapy Bistro restaurant, it will become a great success,” posted Thomas DaRosa.
While the brothers are working to get the market up to full operation, the business hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when the market will be closed.
“After the first of the year the hours may change, maybe from 7 to 10, but that’s not definite,” Fidel said. “We’ll have to see how things go.”