A notice by the entrance of Mi Tierra went up in late August, informing customers that the Seaside market and taqueria would close Aug. 29 for a months-long renovation, and would not reopen until sometime next spring.
Mi Tierra is owned by Luis Prado Yepez and his family, who bought the market in October 2000, and which has the bones of a Quonset hut – distinctively arched, like a military hangar. The Yepez family owns five Mi Tierra markets in total – three in California, two in Oregon – and the first was in San Jose, which opened in 1997. But according to Luis’ son Jose Manuel Yepez, Mi Tierra’s general manager, the one in Seaside is the family’s chiquada – their favorite of the five.
Oswaldo Mesia, the architect for the remodel, says it’s been years in the planning, but once Covid hit in 2020, the plans were put on ice until the future became more clear. Employees were notified early this year, and it’s unknown how many will be back once the market reopens – none took the option to work at other Yepez family-owned Mi Tierra markets, but Manuel Yepez hopes they get as many back as possible.
As for why the remodel will take so long, it’s in part because it’s a major project, and involves asbestos. Mesia’s firm has secured all the necessary permits to proceed – a months-long process – but because some of the materials being removed (like floor tiles) contain some asbestos, it triggers a time-consuming regulatory process.
But all is going to plan, and when the market reopens, it will provide the same concept in an updated setting.
“It’s going to be more contemporary, more clean, more efficient,” Mesia says.
The renovated interior, he says, will move the taqueria closer to the entrance. The carniceria and cremeria will also be new, as will a mezzanine on the loft floor for corporate offices.
Mesia says the city’s planning department made clear they wanted to preserve the arches of the building as it stands now. Most of the work will happen inside.
“We decided to play along and preserve the original look of the building,” Mesia says. “It’s the same bones, but everything else [will be] new.”
The sidewalk and parking lot in front of the store’s entrance will also be reworked – the sidewalk will be widened, among other things – which will allow the taqueria to finally have outdoor seating.
When, exactly, the store will reopen is unclear. Yepez says he hopes it will reopen in May 2023. He also hopes that the store, which has become a Seaside institution, can rehire its former employees that have been forced to find work elsewhere due to the remodel.
“They have the experience and they know how we like to work,” Yepez says, “and they know the customers.”
In the meantime, locals will have to find their tacos and groceries elsewhere, and hope that when Mi Tierra reopens, their tacos will be just as good as ever.