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.
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.
Here are some of their unique stories:
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
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.
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.
BurgerIM, Norwalk Town Square
Just as momentum had started to build for Roy Narvaez’s newly opened BurgerIM franchise, March 2020 put a near-screeching halt to… well, everything. Like it did for countless other businesses, COVID required a complete re-imagining of Roy’s fledgling restaurant. That’s when he realized that opening at Norwalk Town Square was one of the wisest decisions he made. NewMark Merrill immediately stepped up to support Roy through enhanced and consistent communication, financial support education and options, and allowing out-of-the-box thinking to quickly become reality. With the assistance of this supportive landlord team, Roy successfully shifted to a drive-through model within a matter of weeks.
“NewMark Merrill consistently goes out of their way to support their tenants when they need it most. Had they not so quickly agreed to my plan to pivot to drive-through service, we would have been in a much different place today. They truly have an authentic and vested interest in the success of their small business partners.”
Although Roy had prior expertise in owning and operating laundromats, his restaurant experience was limited to his Sizzler busboy days as a 17-year-old. But that didn’t stop him. He sought advice from other restaurant owners and googled constantly. He’s still learning something new daily and loving the freedom that business ownership affords him.
Now with the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Roy has gained back the momentum that was epically disrupted. His mission of serving amazing food with only the best quality ingredients has caught on in the market. And his drive-through concept is going strong. He loves making strategic business decisions and seeing the resulting success. And he knows that NewMark Merrill is always there to support him and his business every step of the way.
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.”
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, 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.”
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.”
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 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.