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When I think of the term bodega, my mind immediately goes to New York City, a store with neon lights, where you buy lottery tickets and everything your heart desires at 3 a.m. The word bodega can be traced back to a Latin word for “storehouse,” and it’s referred to a retail establishment of some sort in English. Although bodega initially meant “a storehouse for wine,” it now most commonly refers to a grocery store in an urban area, especially one that specializes in Hispanic and Latino groceries.
These stores are ordinary in places like NYC, Philadelphia and even Chicago, but in a place like Milwaukee, that’s often dubbed as “Smallwaukee,” do bodegas exist in our city? We went on a quest to find out and visited five contenders around Milwaukee.
I teamed up with Erin Bagatta, our Creative Marketing Manager, and took this question on the road.
Here’s the pitch. After some time researching that consisted of speaking to people, diving into Reddit and spending some time on Google, we made sure our selections had a cultural significance. We landed on Glorioso’s Italian Market, Koppa’s Fulbeli Deli, Pueblo Foods & Liquor, Al-Yousef Supermarket & Restaurant and Indian Groceries and Spices. On one cold December day, we would visit these spots, take in the atmosphere, order a few items and finally put this question to rest.
Listen to the first episode of Uniquely Milwaukee below and find out if bodegas exist in Milwaukee.