From bodega to supermarket

Friday, March 29, 2019
Silvino Morales, owner of Valentina’s Meat Market, stands in the dramatically larger aisles of his new store, on the corner of East 6th across from City Hall. He plans to have one aisle for every nation represented in his store—which may be a feat in itself. / Photos by Elijah Decious

Valentina’s Meat Market, the specialty grocer that bring tastes from around the world to one place, has moved.

The move to 111 East 6th Street across from City Hall, previously occupied by BV Stationery and Printing, about doubles the space they have, taking their possibilities from a warm bodega to an inclusive supermarket.

The move, originally anticipated for last summer, took a bit longer than expected. New electrical work, plumbing and flooring was fixed by owner Silvino Morelos.

“Every day I have a new detail for my vision for our store,” he told the Pilot-Tribune before the move. Now, he can articulate that vision a little better.

With double wide aisles, he still says there’s a lot of room for expansion. Morelos plans to have one aisle for each nation represented in his store—which may be a challenge in Storm Lake, even with his extra space. He says the extra space will also allow for a full produce section and the added benefit of handicap accessibility.

Inclusivity of everyone is important at Valentina’s, he says.

In the back, a new kitchen will also offer hot food over the counter like carnitas and chicharrones.

Other meat specialties toted by Morelos include their “Pollo Sexi” (Sexy Chicken), a chicken thigh with a secret blend of salt and spices. Besides their love for him, the Pollo Sexi is what reels them in from so far, he jokes.

Morelos and his family of five have served tastes from around the world, including Central and South America, India and other parts of Asia. Unique flavors meld in the melting pot his store serves as, giving customers the opportunity to find their favorites in produce and shelf-stable goods, as well as try other specialties they are not as familiar with. “There’s something for everyone from every different part of the world,” the owner said.

He’s glad he can bring a taste from home to them in the place many choose to make their new home.

The store, named after his daughter, will give the customers drawn to it from all over Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri another reason to make the drive.

But the intimate service is not going anywhere, even with the upgrades.

In business since 2005, Valentina’s stands out in town among many food-oriented ventures that struggle to stay open.

Even after they outgrew their last location’s narrow aisles, they haven’t let the success go to their head.

He says it’s the customer service, and the key to his customer service is family.