FRESCO COMMUNITY MARKET - Los Angeles
The Soloist is a movie based on the true story of an unlikely friendship between Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard trained musician who ended up on skid row - homeless and suffering from schizophrenia. The story encapsulates the passion of music and the beauty of redemptive friendship. Off screen, Steve Lopez was able to assist Nathaniel Ayers with playing his violin at Disney Hall, producing a cd, meeting President Obama at the White House, and eventually getting him set-up in an apartment.
Another great L.A. story involves the owners of a grocery store, Jon Murga and Helena Jubany (husband and wife). They were actually inspired by "The Soloist" movie when they were designing plans to open up Fresco Community Market. Jon and Helena opened the market with the idea of reinvesting their own profits back into the local Hermon neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. This couple also established the Fresco Community Foundation which helped them to maximize the amount that they can pour back into the community. Since the market's opening, John and Helena have hired about a dozen people who were recruited through the L.A. Mission's Work Start program; all of these hires were once homeless.
In addition to the humanitarian efforts that Jon and Helena have provided to the locals, they have also blessed the neighborhood with a top-notch store. One customer remarked, "It's like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's had a baby." L.A. Weekly gave Fresco Community Market the distinction of being the "Best Grocery for Saving the World in a Time-Efficient Manner." They say its a one-stop shop for all your ethical-food needs. And, indeed when you venture through this customer friendly, super clean store, you can find an on-site butcher, organic produce, an extensive cheese selection, a wide variety of cultural foods, a reasonably priced bakery and cafe, a generous micro-brew collection and many other general and exotic items.Photo by Felicia Friesema - LA Weekly
When I met John Murga I was so impressed by his efforts to take his personal business and invest in people rather than focus merely on corporate profits. This is a man who truly believes in community restoration. Last year, during a flurry of windstorms in the area, several thousand people lost power during an outage. Mr. Murga helped the local residents by offering refrigerator-freezer space in his market so that his neighbors would not lose their own groceries.
If you happen to be in the Highland Park-South Pasadena area, make sure you drop by this terrific little market.