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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 7 months ago

Ocoee gets Brazilian grocery store

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Brazil Food Mart Ocoee offers imported groceries and also acts as a restaurant, bakery and butcher shop.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

A Brazilian grocer has set up shop in Ocoee.

Brazil Food Mart Ocoee, located at 10872 W. Colonial Drive, opened its doors July 20. The family-owned and -operated market offers a wide selection of grocery products from Brazil and also operates as a bakery, butcher shop and restaurant. 

Kendra Tran co-owns the market with her husband, Rodrigo Rondelli. It’s the third Brazil Food Mart they’ve opened. They opened their first market in MetroWest and the second one in Tampa. Tran said it has taken a year for them to open up their latest location and added that they decided to open their specialty grocery store in Ocoee to be closer to Brazilian expats and fans of Brazilian cuisine in the area.

“I know that there’s a huge demographic of Brazilians in Winter Garden, Ocoee, Windermere (and) Clermont,” Tran said. “Not only that, we have a lot of non-Brazilians who are … connoisseurs of Brazilian food and Brazilian products. Everyone is all into cooking these days.”

In addition to the imported products, Tran said customers can select from a variety of fresh meat at the butcher shop and also take home some fresh-baked goods.

“We offer a traditional butcher shop,” Tran said. “We specialize in the Brazilian, house-special type of cut, which is called picanha. We also serve sirloin; we have poultry (and other) products. … For our bakery goods, everything is made fresh here.”

Customers who go in hungry can pick up light bites like empanadas or coxinha — a popular Brazilian snack made of chopped or shredded chicken that’s covered in dough, molded into a ball or in the shape resembling a teardrop, battered and deep fried. For those craving more than a snack, the market also serves breakfast and offers a lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eventually, the market also will start offering happy hour.

The buffet offers different hot and cold sides, as well as churrasco, which is a variety of grilled meat. Customers can either pay for their food from the buffet by weight or choose from two different all-you-can eat options.

“Nothing is premade and nothing is frozen, so we try to keep it fresh,” Tran said. “Because we are a grocery store, you’re going to come in for fine dining/full-service. … We do this intentionally to keep the cost down.”

Prior to opening up the new market, Tran said many of her customers used to drive from Ocoee, Winter Garden and Windermere to the Brazil Food Mart in MetroWest. She often was asked to set up shop further west.

“They have been asking us, ‘You need to open over here; you need to open over there,’” Tran said. “They (would) drive 30 minutes all the way to MetroWest just to get what they need to get.”

Aside from the food, Tran takes pride in the level of customer service they offer at their markets as they treat all of their customers like family.

“My customers like that mom-and-pop feel,” she said. “You go into the store and everyone says, ‘Good morning, good afternoon, how are you?’ … (Customers) always talk to the butcher. My butcher always offers them a little cup of coffee while they talk. A lot of Brazilian (expats) do not have families here, and we are their family.” 

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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