Fostering the American Dream

The phrase “land of opportunity” conjures up the most noble of business ideals: innovation, perseverance, tenacity, transformation, success, and financial security. These ideals are at the heart of small business and are the backbone of economic success in our country.

At NewMark Merrill, we believe in opportunity for all and are proud to provide a lucrative and viable platform for those seeking to set out on their own and follow their dream. We value the role small businesses play in their local communities, economies and the greater good of this country. We seek business owners who have the desire to better themselves and their surrounding communities through entrepreneurship.

Read our Tenant’s Stories


Approximately 65% of the tenants at NewMark Merrill properties are local entrepreneurs or small business owners.

Our company has a team of dedicated business “mentors” to provide consultation and services to our small business partners, with the goal of setting them up to compete and succeed in any business environment.

The spirit, vibrancy and distinctive characteristics of these sellers, restaurateurs and service providers add a spark to our properties, local flavor to the shopping experience and a powerful boost to our local economies. In short, they make our communities a better place to live.

There has never been a more challenging time to be a small business owner, but we as a company stand by our entrepreneurs every step of the way, and together, we forge ahead into the future.

The word

Cilantro Taco Grill owner Temoc Morfin

Here are some of their unique stories:

Esther & Sam standing in front of Uncle Chung's Bakery

Close up of some of the baked goods made at Uncle Chung's Bakery

Esther Chuang

Uncle Chuang’s Bakery, University Village

In 2012, Sam Chuang was picking up his daughter, Esther, a freshman at UC, Riverside when she shared a story about a disappointing cake search that would alter the course of both of their lives and bring the flavors of his childhood to countless happy customers.

Esther’s cake story, which ended at a grocery store with an overly sweet confection, brought back memories of the bakeries of Sam’s youth in Taiwan. He had already noticed that Riverside had its share of Asian eateries, but no bakeries. Esther’s disappointment lit a fuse for Sam and prompted him to propose that they open the first Asian bakery in Riverside, bringing the distinct flavors of Taiwan’s street pastries to this Southern California university town.

Uncle Chuang’s Bakery opened in 2013 while Esther was still a full-time student. She put her classroom education to the test daily with on-the-job practice — learning by trial and error, and juggling an extremely intense schedule. The bakery was an immediate hit, combining the Chuang’s genuine and welcoming vibe with authentic and flavorful confections that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Upon graduation in 2016, Esther felt the social pressure to follow her classmates into the corporate world. She considered it — even yearned for it, but ultimately decided to stay put as a co-owner of Uncle Chuang’s. In time she was thrilled with her choice, as the demanding corporate culture and tricky politics became too much for many of her college friends. Esther’s unconventional decision has allowed her the authority to shape her own life, schedule and career while doing something she truly loves!

The Chuang’s agree that a huge piece of their success was the decision to open at Newmark Merrill’s University Village. NewMark Merrill has been key in nurturing their business over the years. Services such as a capable 24/7 security team, a clean plaza, an engaged property management team, and proactive marketing programs have all worked in concert to support their endeavor.

In 2019, the father-daughter duo opened a second location with the same pledge to provide fresh pastries and baked goods to all people in the community. They’ve brought together Asian and American cultures by creating tasty treats inspired by Sam’s childhood and a search for a good cake.

chiropractor work in progress

Coreen in front of The Joint building

Coreen in front of The Joint building

Coreen Cammarano

The Joint Chiropractic, Stratford Crossing

A tough diagnosis turned Coreen Cammarano’s life upside down in 2017 and caused her to rethink everything. This arduous journey that started with a cancer diagnosis and underscored life’s fragility, eventually led her to reevaluate her purpose and embark on a new career she never dreamed would be possible.

For nearly two decades following college, Coreen had embraced her role as a stay-at-home mom, going all-in on rearing four kids. At 39, with her children nearly raised and cancer in the rearview mirror, she decided it was time to consider a new path toward personal growth and professional fulfillment.

Coreen’s initial enthusiasm led her toward the idea of a franchise business, and she found a match with The Joint Chiropractic. But big decisions like this don’t always come easily. Coreen nearly got cold feet. Could she really do this? How would she walk the tightrope of working full-time and being a mom? Finally, convinced by her husband that her courage in moving forward would be an inspiration to their children, Coreen took the plunge.

Opening a new business is overwhelming on so many levels but the guidance, roadmap and support The Joint Chiropractic offered gave her confidence and motivation from the get go. Coreen found that people were more willing to help than she could ever have imagined, and she began asking a lot of questions. After years of effort, commitment and an acceptance that perfection is not reality, she received the “Welcome To Wellness” award from the number one health franchise in the country. Not only that, but her portfolio of franchises expanded to nine locations in just five years, and she has three more on the way in 2023.

Coreen acknowledges that her success is built on valued partnerships.

“NewMark Merrill is the only landlord that provides any kind of marketing support out of (soon to be) 12 locations. I know they always have my back as a tenant.”
—Coreen Cammarano

According to Coreen, the level of support between NMC and other landlords is night and day. “They also attract a high caliber of national tenants, which in turn attracts a great clientele to the center.” she added.

The journey has been full of ups and downs, but well worth it — remember her husband’s encouragement to inspire her children that got Coreen started? Coreen’s daughter now calls her a “bad ass”!

krav maga class

krav maga class

punching bag work in krav maga class

James Hiromasa

Krav Maga, Broomfield Plaza

James Hiromasa has learned so much since launching his business in 2003 that he could write a book about it — and that’s exactly what he’s doing. A journey that began when James discovered Krav Maga, a self-defense technique best known as the official discipline for the Israel Defense Forces, ultimately led to his successful multi-studio business including a location at Broomfield Plaza.

As a martial arts enthusiast, James had recognized a real void and lack of realistic self-defense training programs for adults. Krav Maga was a revelation. After becoming one of the first certified teachers in the U.S. in 1997, he decided to share this potentially life-saving skill with as many good people as possible.

Starting out provided plenty of challenges, but funding was by far the biggest. “We quite literally built the business up from zero,” says James. With three young children to raise at home (including a newborn), a two hour commute every day and countless other hurdles to clear, the beginning was intense, even for this disciplined martial arts master.

James’ mantra, “effort = outcome,” was invaluable, and while others romanticize the concept of “being their own boss,” James approaches small business ownership with a different mindset. He has hundreds of bosses (clients) who he works tirelessly to please. In James’ mind, having the ability to direct real-time changes, constantly evolve ideas and goals and see the immediate impact of efforts is priceless, but what really drives him is achieving success for his students in the studio.

Although James has studios in other locations, he emphasizes that the teams at Broomfield Plaza and NewMark Merrill have much better communication and ongoing support than his other property managers.

“They were amazing during the tenant improvement phase. They helped with timing issues and were able to make critical adjustments in real time.”
—James Hiromasa

James strives to partner with NewMark Merrill in as many of their onsite events as possible. He’s pleased to be a part of such an inclusive and caring team, where he can focus on what he does best — teaching Krav Maga to all.

Because of their years of hard work and commitment, the community has grown to view the Krav Maga team as a group of top experts in their field, delivering honest, professional training that can’t be found elsewhere. James has a lot to say about what it means to have an American dream, to start a business — too much to include here. You’ll just have to read the book.

Inside Harvinder's restaurant - Karma

Karma restaurant staff

Harvinder Singh

Karma Indian Cuisine, Janss Marketplace

More than 24 years ago, 16-year-old Harvinder Singh was already learning the restaurant business as a dishwasher at a mom & pop Indian restaurant. With the support and guidance of co-workers, and a lot of his own “elbow grease”, he ultimately learned every aspect of the restaurant trade and made his dream of owning an Indian eatery into a reality.

As he strove for success, hard work and persistence became Harvinder’s friends. In fact, over the years, he became a master at both. From penny-pinching his limited income to save for a start-up, to brokering bank negotiations that were lengthy and complicated, to rallying family members for their financial and operational support, he was a man on a mission. And his tenacity paid off. It took him 12 years to gather enough capital, but he finally opened his first Indian Restaurant in Sedona, AZ.

When an opportunity to relocate closer to family arose, Harvinder moved to Thousand Oaks and opened Karma Indian Cuisine at Janss Marketplace, where his tasty authentic dishes bring customers through the doors regularly. According to Harvinder, his choice of location was serendipitous as NewMark Merrill has proven to be a dedicated ally since the start.

“NewMark Merrill has been a great partner and supporter of my business over the years, and we really appreciate their kindness,” said Harvinder. “They were also there to help during our COVID struggles.”
—Harvinder Singh

Harvinder dedicates 12-14 hours a day to his restaurant. The appreciation he receives from repeat customers and long-term employees make it all worthwhile. He loves cooking & providing excellent service and takes pride in running a small business that offers so much to his community. Maybe his success is karma.

Jasmine Beauty School owner Hung La

students at Jasmine Beauty School

Hung (Kevin) La

Jasmine Beauty School, University Square

“Expect the unexpected.” That’s what Hung La (Kevin) wishes he knew at the beginning of his small business journey.

When Kevin and his wife noticed that San Diego Asian-owned beauty schools were shutting down in 2017 for a variety of reasons, he identified a unique niche in the market. Vietnamese immigrants were forced to drive to Orange County to attend beauty schools there. Many were just arriving in San Diego and didn’t have the money or transportation to make the trek all the way to the OC to learn this lucrative trade.

This pronounced void prompted Kevin to spend two years of his life obtaining permits, conducting research and gaining approvals to open Jasmine Beauty School — an affordable and quality cosmetology school serving an underserved community.

Obtaining capital, going through the extensive application process and building out the space were just a few of the challenges that dotted his journey. As unexpected obstacles arose throughout the process, he tackled them one by one.

He also had help. NewMark Merrill was a big supporter of his concept from the start. Responsive and communicative, the NMC team was instrumental in helping to prepare the building and parking lot and led the way on reaching out to the community.

“NewMark Merrill’s commitment to the community is similar to ours. We offer haircuts to the houseless, veterans and lower-income individuals. Their ongoing outreach efforts, paired with ours, are a win-win for everyone.”
—Hung (Kevin) La

Kevin has since learned that the “unexpected” will always be popping up, but has taken great pride in putting his passion to work. He experiences true joy from watching students complete classes, pass state exams and obtain meaningful employment. He is proud that, in partnership with NewMark Merrill, they have made a positive impact on this humble community.

Eureka co-owner Philip McDaniel

Eureka clients playing games

Eureka co-owner Philip McDaniel

Phil McDaniel & Adam Ansari

Eureka Brewing Company, Janss Marketplace

When Philip McDaniel started tinkering with homebrewing, he became what many of us do with our hobbies — obsessed! Even so, he couldn’t have imagined then that he would one day found his own microbrewery, partnering with a life-long friend to bring tasty brews to grateful beer enthusiasts all across the San Fernando Valley.

Phil doesn’t remember exactly when hobby became obsession, but from the beginning he was hooked. He loved how brewing was the perfect mix of science and creativity, and he pored over books and manuals, devouring the material. When he discovered that he could earn a degree in brewing, Phil knew he had to let go or go for it as his pastime had become a “full time.” He went for it and found himself studying at Chicago’s Siebel Institute and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany on his way to obtaining an international diploma in brewing.

After 15 years of practicing his craft and helping launch other businesses, Phil felt his time had come. When his friend, Adam Ansari agreed to bring his business expertise to a partnership with Phil, Eureka Brewing Company was born.
The first step was establishing a production facility, but it was critical to also find a retail location that would provide consumer exposure and regular traffic benefits, and Newmark Merrill was waiting in the wings to help. Their multi-functional teams were instrumental in setting up and establishing the microbrewery at Janss Marketplace.

“So many things to consider, including one of the most critical tasks — working through government regulations to run an alcohol producing business—were guided by the experience and knowledge of NMC. The navigation of the local government permitting and the process of designing and obtaining City approvals for signage was stress-free. NMC was there every step of the way, guiding us through this difficult to navigate process.”
—Phil McDaniel

Phil and Adam have learned countless lessons on the merits of being frugal and prioritizing expenses. They’ve learned to hire good people who have strengths they lack, and they’re providing a superior product that customers can enjoy with family and friends.
Phil and Adam are now not only lifelong friends, they’re also united in their passion to grow Eureka Brewing’s presence in the industry and to brew the best-tasting and most true-to-standards beer you’ll ever taste. You might say, they’re obsessed.

James Hiromasa

Krav Maga, Broomfield Plaza

James Hiromasa has learned so much since launching his business in 2003 that he could write a book about it — and that’s exactly what he’s doing. A journey that began when James discovered Krav Maga, a self-defense technique best known as the official discipline for the Israel Defense Forces, ultimately led to his successful multi-studio business including a location at Broomfield Plaza.

As a martial arts enthusiast, James had recognized a real void and lack of realistic self-defense training programs for adults. Krav Maga was a revelation. After becoming one of the first certified teachers in the U.S. in 1997, he decided to share this potentially life-saving skill with as many good people as possible.

Starting out provided plenty of challenges, but funding was by far the biggest.

“We quite literally built the business up from zero.”
—James Hiromasa

With three young children to raise at home (including a newborn), a one hour each way everyday commute, and countless other hurdles to clear, the beginning was intense, even for this disciplined martial arts master.

James’ mantra, “effort = outcome”, was invaluable, and while others romanticize the concept of “being their own boss”, James approaches small business ownership with a different mindset. He has hundreds of bosses (clients) who he works tirelessly to please. In James’ mind, having the ability to direct real-time changes, constantly evolve ideas and goals and see the immediate impact of efforts is priceless, but what really drives him is achieving success for his students in the studio.

Although James has studios in other locations, he points out that the teams at Broomfield Plaza and NewMark Merrill have much better communication and ongoing support than his other property managers. He’s pleased to be a part of such an inclusive and caring team, where he can focus on what he does best — teaching Krav Maga to all.

Because of their years of hard work and commitment, the community has grown to view the Krav Maga team as a group of top experts in their field, delivering honest, professional training that can’t be found elsewhere. James has a lot to say about what it means to have an American dream, to start a business — too much to include here. You’ll just have to read the book.

More stories:

ax throwing at Mighty Axe

ax throwing at Mighty Axe

Ryan Bradley

The Mighty Axe, Janss Marketplace

After another particularly harrowing day as part of a Fortune 100 corporate team, working insane hours week-after-week, Ryan Bradley had a career epiphany. Why was he pouring his heart and soul into someone else’s dream? Why had developing and marketing medicines become his #1 priority in life? On the heels of COVID lockdowns, he realized what people really needed was a different kind of medicine — one with connections, experiences, joy and laughter. And he was the man to give it to them.

To some, Ryan’s epiphany was just plain crazy. It would require more than the sweat equity and business smarts that every startup needs. It would also necessitate a dramatic life shift and reimagining of Ryan’s career goals. But Ryan was up for the challenge. He sharpened his entrepreneurial skills and opened The Mighty Axe at Janss Marketplace — a lively entertainment venue where people gather, enjoy craft ales, and of course, throw axes like seasoned lumberjacks…seriously.

Those doubters who thought Ryan was crazy — everyone from friends and family to landlords and municipalities — warned him away from his dream. NewMark Merrill recognized the idea’s potential, embraced the vision and partnered with Ryan to make it a reality. NMC was patient, understanding and flexible during a time of unknowns, restrictions and endless complications.

Today, The Mighty Axe is that good-medicine gathering spot Ryan dreamed of. Regular customers throw real axes at wooden targets in a safe environment. They enjoy the craftiest ales in Ventura County, and dine on culinary delights from sushi to pizza to wings brought in by partner restaurants. The Mighty Axe is even certified by the World Axe Throwing League and offers competitive throwing opportunities and tournaments to his clientele. But most importantly, it’s a place to gather and enjoy time together — in a therapeutic healing way.

Ryan’s days at The Mighty Axe still require all of his heart & soul, long hours and daily challenges. But the culmination of his quest for creating something meaningful makes it all worthwhile. He’s in charge — creating community jobs, employing great people, making all the decisions and setting his own schedule. Finally, his career is right on target.

barista pouring a latte

making an espresso

Justin Hartman

OZO Coffee Company, Village at the Peaks

For many, their neighborhood coffee spot is synonymous with a good morning. It’s the place where your coffee is fresh-roasted, breakfast is wholesome and fast, and the atmosphere is quirky and inviting. Justin Hartman has made OZO Coffee Company all of those things and a success to boot. With five OZO locations in and around the Boulder area, including Village at the Peaks, Justin is brewing up local favorites 7 days a week. Success has not been without its challenges, particularly during the recent COVID lockdowns, but Justin has persevered and achieved his own American dream.

Before OZO, Justin honed his business sense managing another owner’s successful company. The experience gave him the know-how and inspiration to branch out on his own. Like accomplishing anything great, it didn’t come easy. OZO Coffee launched with very little up-front cash, no outside investors and a small SBA loan. The stress really set in when costs exceeded his initial projections by 30% and his opening timeline shifted by 3 months.

But in the midst of this challenging journey and especially during the COVID-plagued months of 2020, Justin realized he’d found a true-blue partner in NewMark Merrill. Unlike the sense of “being on your own” at other locations, the Village at the Peaks organization exemplified a team-oriented environment. NMC regularly planned meaningful and relevant community events to drive traffic. During the pandemic they bolstered efforts in establishing additional outdoor dining areas, developed a comprehensive signage program and ensured sanitation and safety were fully supported.

Justin finds the rewards of being a small business owner to be plentiful. He’s a proud supporter of local charities, and he’s motivated daily by his desire to connect with and support diversity in the community. He’s forging his own path to success and proving that coffee brings people together.

counter staff at Chick-fil-A

kitchen staff at Chick-fil-A

Matt Rhodes

Chick-fil-A, Melrose Park

Today the name Chick-fil-A is synonymous with the burgeoning chicken craze. That wasn’t the case in 2016 in Melrose Park, IL when Matt Rhodes partnered with Chick-fil-A to open a local franchise where only about 12% of the market had even HEARD of the now very popular chicken eatery. But Matt knew the culture and the opportunities that he and this operation could bring would ultimately benefit this tight-knit community.

Matt was raised in an entrepreneurial family. Always focused on caring for others, his parents started a local medical supply company where they provided hospital beds, walkers, oxygen equipment and wheelchairs for in-home care. Matt was witness to their strong work ethic and to the value they brought their local community.

Following in his parent’s footsteps, Matt was also driven to start his own business — to succeed, yes, but also to make a positive impact on the community. Matt describes his Chick-fil-A franchise as being in “the people business masked by chicken”. He’s big on team leadership and empowers his employees to create little moments of kindness, surprise and care throughout the day.

Newmark Merrill has been instrumental in supporting the Melrose Park Chick-fil-A. Struggling with initially-low Chick-fil-A brand awareness, Matt needed all the help he could get to bring customers through the door. NMC’s deep commitment to hosting ongoing community events consistently drove new business to the property. Matt knew once these newbies experienced their unique brand of customer service and tasted the chicken, they’d become fans. The NMC/Chick-fil-A combo was a recipe for success.

Today, the business is booming and Matt’s team members are thriving both personally and professionally. He’s already mentored one leader to purchase her own franchise and has three more in the pipeline to do the same. Watching his team members learn, grow and achieve is Matt’s true passion. And he’s pleased that the people of Melrose Park are clucking about Chick-fil-A, the best chicken in town.

staff at BJ's

kitchen worker at BJ's

John Meyer

BJ’s Market & Bakery, Stony Island Plaza

After graduating from culinary school, John Meyer, who had also earned a marketing degree from Chicago State University, was chef-ready to lead a kitchen. He had turned childhood inspiration (his mom & grandma’s joy of cooking) into a passion backed by classical training in French-American cuisine. All he needed now was an opportunity…but no one would hire him. It was an early lesson in perseverance, patience and self-belief that would eventually lead John down the path to entrepreneurship and his own restaurant.

Despite the initial kitchen doors that didn’t open, John (now Chef Meyer) ultimately landed a coveted spot at the prestigious University Club of Chicago, where he honed his skills with their very discerning clientele. His first solo venture came soon after — a “white tablecloth” restaurant in the historic Pullman area on Chicago’s south side. The Retreat Restaurant was a major success, garnering top reviews, cementing John’s culinary reputation, and setting the stage for his next venture – fine southern cooking at BJ’s Market & Bakery.

Now a fixture at Stony Island Plaza, BJ’s started with John’s desire to create a place where memories could be made over plates of great food shared amongst family and friends. As with any small business start-up, there were hiccups along the way. Capital, staffing issues, and more plagued the first years, but soon enough, BJ’s fell into a smooth and consistent rhythm of solid business growth. When COVID hit in March 2020, there were certainly more bumps. Menus were modified, take-out processes were streamlined and bottom line adjustments were necessary. But all along the way, NewMark Merrill was there for John and his team.

“They truly care about their properties and tenants, and it shows by their responsiveness, availability and ongoing proactive communication.”
—John Meyer

After nearly 30 years of providing “food for the soul”, Chef Meyer has hit his stride at BJ’s, where locals have wholly embraced his home-style fare. Success is sweet, but John truly values what can’t be quantified — a daily mixture of customer smiles, long-term employee growth and development, and decisions that result in an immediate impact. He recognizes that people are the most important ingredient in his recipe for success.

instructor teaching martial arts

instructor teaching martial arts

Trish Church

Trish & Ken Church

Church’s ATA Martial Arts, Piazza Carmel

Every martial arts studio aspires to greatness by creating exceptional students, who become exceptional human beings — creating a world champion is a once in a lifetime dream. But for Church’s Martial Arts, Piazza Carmel’s locally-owned Taekwondo Martial Arts studio, that dream has flourished beyond imagination. They have created more American Taekwondo Association (ATA) World Champions than any other studio in the country! With more than 130,000 active members and 1 million+ students trained to date, Church’s is a recognized powerhouse within the industry. How do they do it? According to Trish Church, who owns the business with husband Ken, “Simply said — it’s just HARD work.”

Hard work and discipline have always been guiding principles for the Church’s. When they launched their second location at Piazza Carmel in 2002, they started with a comprehensive and precise business plan that outlined all aspects of their financial sources and goals, marketing/PR strategies and instructional operations.

With preparation like that, start-up obstacles were few, but the team at Church’s has always valued the support they’ve received from their Carmel Valley landlord, Newmark Merrill. From the monthly tenant meetings designed to gauge tenants’ performances, needs, and challenges, to the ongoing marketing support and successful events that drive traffic, the Church’s consider NMC an incredible partner. They have — half-jokingly — requested that NMC purchase the shopping center that houses their original studio — just 15 minutes north in Encinitas, CA.

Church’s Martial Arts has become an institution in the community, a trusted place where parents know their children will be taught a ceaseless work ethic and respect for all — life skills that have bolstered students’ success in martial arts and more importantly, in life overall. Former students have landed spots at some of the most prestigious universities — Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Brown, Duke, Notre Dame and many more.

“It’s important to have a good reputation in your communities.”
—Trish Church

For the Church’s, entrepreneurship has provided an incredible sense of connection at their studios. She and Ken treasure the privilege they’ve earned of developing the hopes, dreams and minds of the next generation.

Ohana owner Iris Ramirez

hand stacking condiments in small plastic containers

Iris Ramirez

Ohana Hawaiian BBQ, Mission Marketplace

Iris Ramirez’s dad always dreamed of having his own restaurant. In 2005, when he first opened the doors at Ohana Hawaiian BBQ in Mission Marketplace, he never imagined that dream would span a generation and continue beyond his years. After he passed, Ramirez’s own “Ohana”(family in Hawaiian) took the reins, continuing his tradition of bringing authentic Hawaiian flavor to the Oceanside, CA community.

The Oceanside trade area is home to a substantial population of Islanders, and Ohana Hawaiian BBQ has genuinely become a key part of the community fabric there. The food is authentic, but it’s more than that. From offering employment and training opportunities, to supporting local organizations, to maintaining original family recipes and flavors, they have established a strong and frequent set of regular clientele who experience a “taste of home” when they come for a bite.

Over the years, NewMark Merrill’s unwavering support has helped Ohana thrive and grow. According to Iris, the NMC team consistently supports each and every tenant in truly meaningful ways. And for this, Iris and her family are truly grateful. During the pandemic, particularly, every opportunity imaginable was provided to keep tenants operating. Most impressive to Iris, NMC organized and provided donations to overwhelmed teachers and healthcare workers, and hosted socially-distanced events to normalize life for children. In Iris’ opinion, NMC is a company that has an undisputed stake in the game.

Iris and her family consider their clients extended Ohana. They’ve watched babies go from first steps to high school graduation and said sad goodbyes to those who moved away, then happily reunited when they return for a meal during visits home. Customers they’ve known for years still come from farther than you’d think for the food, fun and family. Iris says her dad made owning a business seem easy. It hasn’t always been, but he left her with his recipe for success — to be consistent in delivering greatness to the customer.

“We try our best to keep the Hawaiian flavor in our food.”
—Iris Ramirez

baristas at Ziggy's

danishes in pastry case

Taffy Nichols

Ziggi’s Coffee, Broomfield Plaza

Ziggi’s Coffee has just opened at Broomfield Plaza, and its franchise owners, Taffy Nichols and her husband, are buzzing with excitement! This is what Taffy has always wanted — a real stake in the restaurant business — a business she’s loved since she was a teen — with a company she respects and knows well.

With that kind of enthusiasm, this is a partnership made in heaven. Taffy LOVES the company and everything about it — the amazing culture and vibe, the energy, the authenticity, the business structure and the incredible customer service. Not to mention the coffee itself! Ziggi’s Coffee proudly partners with Coda Coffee, a local coffee roaster and supplier based out of Denver, Colorado, to supply their quality, small-batch coffee roasts. What’s not to love?

Taffy’s first experience in food and beverage was at Taco Bell as a teen. The owner became a mentor and led her toward a fulfilling 24 years in the industry. Now a mom of three, Taffy recognized her voluminous hours and unpredictable work schedule were not conducive to putting her family first. She was seeking a more flexible situation where she could be there for her family when most needed. When she caught word that this local coffee company was offering franchises, the timing was right, and she stepped up immediately.

It’s no secret that now is a challenging time to start a business. The pandemic continues to present issues related to supply chain and streamlining operations. But Taffy is adapting and pivoting every step of the way. One bright spot is the consistent support she receives from NewMark Merrill. The NMC onsite team checks in frequently and has provided a wealth of information by answering countless questions and providing resources. According to Taffy, NMC is more involved than other landlords and always willing to help, no matter the issue.

Taffy loves that Ziggi’s provides a welcoming environment for community members to work, visit with a friend or just relax with a cup of joe. At a time when other cafes have limited tables or are so short-staffed that the experience is tainted, Ziggi’s tech-savvy model allows Taffy to focus on top-quality customer service. She’s thrilled to be a part of the community where she believes she can make an impact on a more intimate scale.

Victoria’s Mexican Food owners

Victoria’s Mexican Food kitchen

Victoria’s Mexican Food cook

Yolanda De la Torre

Victoria’s Mexican Food, Mission Marketplace

Looking for better opportunities for their family, the De la Torres opened Victoria’s Mexican Food at Mission Marketplace in 1996, and over the 25 years since, it has become a verified local favorite. In Oceanside, CA, where Mexican fare can be found on every corner, that’s quite a feat. Customers consistently rave about their great service, great prices and the delicious, authentic food. Yolanda De la Torre, sister of the founder, is the current owner.

Yolanda credits her team’s incredible work ethic as the key to their success. With exceptional time management, they’ve learned to consistently work smarter and more efficiently. They’ve also listened to their customers and have implemented their suggestions.

Like every business, they encountered obstacles during their start-up phase. Yolanda says the language barrier was initially their greatest challenge. Outfitting the business with the right equipment and finding ingredient suppliers was the next hurdle. The De la Torres’ persevered and thrived.

And, they’re happy to be part of Mission Marketplace.

“NewMark Merrill has supported us numerous ways over the years. From hosting customer-driving events, to providing sanitation stations during the pandemic, to always promptly responding when we have an issue or request.

“Being a small business owner is rewarding because, after working hard for the past two decades, everything is well-established. All the hard work has paid off, and our new generations can take over some day.”
—Yolanda De la Torre

Inglewood Grocery Outlet small business owner, Patricia White

Photos of Patricia Wolfe's family and co-workers

Patricia White

Grocery Outlet, Crenshaw Imperial Plaza

After spending her entire career in retail, Patricia White found herself disenchanted on the path that had once inspired her. “I found myself hating what I once loved doing,” says Patricia.  She was so ready for a change that even the paralyzing fear of failure couldn’t stand in her way. Though it took a year, she and her husband, Neason, both decided to quit their jobs and go out on their own.

Enter Grocery Outlet, a specialty market that sells affordable organic products, produce, meat, deli and wines, with a business model that promotes and fosters connection to community. The White’s took the leap in May of 2018, when they opened Inglewood’s first Grocery Outlet at Crenshaw Imperial Plaza, overcoming their initial fears and taking control of their own destinies.

The White’s are incredibly grateful to be part of a NewMark Merrill property. According to the couple, it has been instrumental in their success. Through traffic-driving, on-site promotion, and responsive management, NewMark Merrill has provided key elements to their success.

We’ve partnered with NewMark Merrill on many occasions to help bring in customers. Any time we have any issues, NewMark Merrill is there to help.
—Patricia White

In step with the Grocery Outlet philosophy, the White’s work diligently to provide their community with quality products at amazing prices, and cherish the opportunity to give back by providing steady jobs and partnering with local non-profits, schools and churches. Customers rave about the cleanliness of the store, the friendly staff and selection of affordable organic products and produce that is hard to find elsewhere.

Caffé Tazza Coffeehouse & Bistro owners

Caffé Tazza Coffeehouse & Bistro bar taps

Chris Madruga

Caffe Tazza Coffeehouse & Bistro, Terra Nova Plaza

In 2009, on the heels of one of the worst U.S. economic recessions on record, Cesar Fuentes and his wife, Isela, set forth to acquire Terra Nova Plaza’s Caffe Tazza.  Isela, a frequent Caffe Tazza customer for more than a decade, knew everything about this small gathering spot. Frequently conducting client meetings there, she was familiar with the ins and outs of the menu, the customer service and the overall operation. And she envisioned all kinds of ways to make it even better. The opportunity to make Caffe Tazza her own finally came, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.

With the economy in a tailspin and banks rarely granting loans, Cesar and Isela, along with their co-owner, Chris Madruga, boldly put forth an all-cash offer and acquired the business. This terrifying leap was wrought with potential pitfalls. Many Americans were eliminating the “extras”, and specialty coffee certainly fell into that category. The first two years were a master class in navigating uncertainty. But with financial reserves in place, they forged ahead, implementing an aggressive hands-on approach that took Caffe Tazza through the storm.

When 2020 hit, Cesar & Isela faced an even bigger challenge – the pandemic and the retail apocalypse that followed. They were forced to shutter their business for nearly two months, but their rocky start in 2009 was now fuel for much needed faith and resilience. Caffe Tazza was in the perfect hands. With a depth of experience overcoming adversity, the team turned 2020 into another successful year. NewMark Merrill was by their side through it all.

“NewMark Merrill has been absolutely awesome. They are incredibly hands-on, it seems like they’re always here on site and they’re amazingly communicative. They’re truly invested in the success of small, family-owned businesses, like ours.”
—Cesar Fuentes

The Caffe Tazza team is relieved that the challenges of 2009 and 2020 are in the rear-view mirror, and they’re hopeful and anticipatory about continuing to be the neighborhood place to grab great quality coffee, mingle with regulars and be part of a special Chula Vista, CA community.

Wyatt's Wet Goods owner Dennis Dinsmore

Wyatt's Wet Goods owner Dennis Dinsmore

Dennis Dinsmore

Wyatt’s Wet Goods, Village at the Peaks

While many welcome retirement, Dennis Dinsmore was having none of it. As the time drew near, he instead jumped headfirst into a new venture, agreeing to partner with a younger friend who could take over their business when Dennis decided he was ready to kick his heels up and finally retire.

Challenge #1: the friend didn’t last. But Dennis moved ahead anyway—and in 2014, after NewMark Merrill’s Allen Ginsborg approached him about a prime spot at Village at the Peaks (which was in development at the time), he opened Wyatt’s Wet Goods. This anchor-sized, full-service liquor store boasts the largest selection of wine and spirits in Longmont, CO. Locals flock there to find fine wines, unique craft beer and local selections from favorite wineries, breweries, and distilleries. They have it all!

In addition to going it alone, Dennis faced some other startup challenges. Navigating the intricacies of raising capital, finding the right people to manage his store, and the unexpected delayed opening of another anchor tenant all posed their own issues. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but never anticipated the extraordinary effort it would take to launch in a new market.

With his typical fortitude, Dennis employed an aggressive gorilla marketing strategy that reached customers in unexpected ways, engaged local charitable groups and partnered with fellow merchants to build his business from the ground up.

And he believes NewMark Merrill has been instrumental in his success.

“NewMark Merrill was always available and accessible. From marketing assistance, to providing intuitive feedback on market penetration to great on-site security, they’ve proven repeatedly to be a loyal partner.”
—Dennis Dinsmore

Music-Go-Round owner Paul Telford

Music-Go-Round owner Paul Telford

Paul Telford

Music-Go-Round, Marketplace 99

Like most teenagers, Paul Telford was a music fan, and at the age of 16 purchased his first guitar. He had a thirst for learning just about any instrument he could get his hands on, but landed on drums as his true passion. As he started a career in IT, eventually working for one of the world’s largest companies, that passion for music went on the back burner, but the flame never went out. By 2018, Paul was a single father of high-school aged twins, and ready for a change.

Combining his passion for music with a giant leap of faith, Paul opened Music-Go-Round, a business that buys, sells and trades quality used musical instruments at Marketplace 99 in Elk Grove, CA. He knew there would be long hours and plenty of hurdles to start, but those first frantic months laid the groundwork for success.  From the beginning, he has insisted on putting  the customer first and the strategy has paid off. “We treat our customers as if they are our most important asset, because they are!” says Paul.

Paul believes that building relationships is another key to his success. He partners with local high schools, districts, music educators and even competitors within the community to resource all things music. He sees that sense of a positive relationship with NewMark Merrill as well. They have served as a resource to Paul from the start and are there to support when needed. Music is now a part of Paul’s daily life, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I like the freedom of being my own boss and seeing something I built be successful. My greatest pride is matching a child with their first instrument and having them return for upgrades as they progress in their mastery of music.”
—Paul Telford

Cilantro Taco Grill owner Temoc Morfin with customer

Cilantro Taco Grill cook in kitchen

Cilantro Taco Grill owner Temoc Morfin

Temoc Morfin

Cilantro Taco Grill, Stratford Crossing

No one actually knows where cilantro came from, but it’s an herb with a long and storied history. Records show it was harvested up to 5,000 years ago with mentions in early religious texts. Temoc Morfin and his family have always been inspired by this flavorful herb—so much so that they were driven to open a restaurant with cilantro at the forefront of their mission and purpose.

Cilantro Taco Grill, a fast-casual authentic Mexican restaurant, first opened in August of 2013. By 2018, when they opened at Stratford Crossing in Bloomingdale, IL, they had grown to multiple restaurants and a tortilla factory, each owned and operated by one of Temoc’s siblings! Their handed-down family recipes influenced their menu of traditional Mexican food, all seasoned with their own Cilantro House Salsa.The Morfin’s entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by their father, a businessman who told them that starting your own business leads to independence and provides jobs for your community. They all faced many startup obstacles, but prevailed with the support of family. The Morfin’s are honored by the patronage of customers from Bloomingdale and all of the other communities they serve.

“We have ten other Cilantro Taco Grill locations with nine other landlords, and NewMark Merrill is by far the best we work with. They truly care about the success of their tenants. I wish they owned more of the properties where we do business.”
—Temoc Morfin

Temoc and his siblings have not only realized the American Dream for themselves, they’ve also guaranteed a better future for their children. Their family legacy of success (and delectable Mexican fare) will be felt for generations of Morfin’s to come.