Mercado Fifth Season May Be Delayed
After several successful seasons, Mercado on Fifth is literally building on its success.
The Moline-based nonprofit - which works to showcase Hispanic food, culture, and business – may postpone the start of its fifth season, while also preparing its first permanent building.
Late last year, Mercado, with real estate development group West Gateway Partners LLC, bought the former Car Shop at 423 12th Street, in downtown Moline, next to the organization’s outdoor property. Mercado and West Gateway, both managed by members of the Ontiveros family, are renovating the 6,300-square-foot building into a business incubator and event space at a cost of over $1 million.
This will allow Mercado’s food and retail vendors year-round opportunities to sell their products, rain or shine. Mercado executive director Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers also anticipates using the space for small business training, mentorship, and for private events.
"We see the building functioning as a Hispanic cultural center, as well as kind of a business resource center. Mercado as an organization has helped over 20 minority-owned businesses start. It's really created access to a system and broken down language barriers, and really helped people achieve that dream of being a business owner."
The building will be available for rent to community members or businesses. The indoor capacity will be for about 300 people, with an outdoor patio with space for 700 more. The plan includes a couple of incubator food businesses, to function year-round, and the building will be used Friday nights for Mercado overflow.
Typically Mercado on Fifth has an outdoor festival from 5 to 10 pm on Fridays from late May through October. Attendance has grown from 2,000 the first year to 20,000 last year. Friedhof-Rodgers says the uncertainty caused by the pandemic will delay the opening which had been planned for May 22nd.
"We are obviously postponing the start of the season and staying tuned with what Governor Pritzker decides is what's best for the state. We're evaluating weekly, and really we have already shifted. We had several events scheduled in March and April.”
“We've been doing off-season events and been extending our programming already, before Covid happened. So we already shifted into doing virtual programming and finding ways to support and promote our businesses without having Mercado.”
The group has received some grants for the building project and is launching a $500,000 capital campaign.
For more information, visit mercadoonfifth.org.