BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — “I really enjoy shopping here. Especially getting the pan dulce here, if I ever have a craving for something sweet,” said Emilie Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is pursuing a graduate degree at Louisiana State University. She is also a first-generation college student from San Diego, Ca. Her most recent grocery run included picking up some Mexican candy, limes, and cookies to share with classmates.

Ideal Market has developed a loyal following over the past few decades. The store caters to the growing Hispanic population in south Louisiana but also carries many items not found in traditional supermarkets, like Mexican cactus leaves.

The first Ideal Market opened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During the rebuilding process, the owners noticed an influx of Hispanics and the need to open a one-stop shop that catered to their every need.

“Not just a corner bodega. Somewhere where they could get everything they needed – from their money transfers home and the cuts of meat from their country, the produce from their country,” said Ben Castro, chief marketing officer at Ideal Market.

Today, all supermarket locations still include a pharmacy, hot foods, agua frescas bars, a panadería (authentic bakery), and much more.

“Louisiana has always been the great melting pot. I just think, in the last few decades, the influx of Hispanics have just added to the culture of Louisiana and to the flavor of it,” said Castro. “Ideal Market has added to the flavor of Louisiana.” 

Ideal Market currently operates two stores in Baton Rouge and five in New Orleans. Castro said an eighth location is expected to soon open in Gonzales.