By: Jen Russon
Whether you hail from a Latin American city or seek the kind of cultural experience only those places can offer, the recently opened Waao Market and Bakery delivers.
Store owner Olga Zapata said they opened their doors on December 10, and she wants the Coral Springs community to know they are here.
“I’m from Colombia. Excellent pastries and coffee, the kind people from Latin America expect, are at Waao — ‘wow’ is what I hope people say when they step inside,” said Zapata.
Clad in a red Waao cap and apron, Zapata likes taking visitors down aisles crammed with iconic Latin brand names.
Taking in all that colorful packaging is like a quick trip to Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Peru — even countries as far-flung as Argentina and Ecuador.
The aisles are arranged by the county their foods represent. One can even find the whole Valerian root packaged with other herbs native to their country.
A small Latin superstore, Waao sells everything from cleaning products to Oma Colombian coffee, which is what they brew and top with decorative foam, when you opt to dine in at the cozy restaurant, just adjacent to the market.
After plying Coral Springs Talk with flaky guava pastries, cheesy bread, and a rich and full-bodied coffee, Zapata moved on for a tour of the aisles.
“We have food and drinks in our store that are hard to find,” she said, showing off shelves of inventory that include Inca Cola and Pony Malta.
But it’s not all about eating, drinking, and staving off homesickness for your familia.
Zapata said if you can’t actually go home to your abuelita, you can do the next best thing at Waao and wire her money or ship a care package.
“A lot of our customers have family in South America,” she said, adding that, right now, they are running a promotion at Waao where the first transfer up to $500 is free.
The area where customers can take advantage of the deal is right next to the restaurant, where the smell of empanadas and arepas stuffed with virtually anything one can imagine waft through the immaculate store.
“If we don’t have the filling you want, our bakery takes suggestions,” Zapata winked.
Open as early as 7:30 a.m., the bakery menu includes lunch items and lots of different breakfast choices.
Waao regulars Fabio Alorcon and Hernando Boron stop by regularly to enjoy an authentic Latin lunch.
“We love the pastries and the food. It’s so relaxing here,” said Boron.
As they got up to leave, another patron settled in at the cafe’s lounging area to leisurely work on her laptop, espresso in hand.
Zapata said Waao is hiring more kitchen staff, but they have the well-stocked market covered, and customers with armloads of groceries are starting to take note.
“If you’re craving the salsa you used to eat when you lived in Mexico, we probably have it,” she said, adding that the sweet oatmeal drink, Avena, is something they restock a lot of, too.
There are also freezers full of fresh and exotic tropical juices, import beer, cakes, and cheeses. Sealed packs of specialty meats like chorizo are also on offer at Waao.
While most of her patrons are South American natives, Zapata said she sees quite a few other ethnicities come through Waao as well.
“My Asian customers also get a craving for Latin foods — we try to give everyone who comes here authentic flavor. We just want them to eat something very nice and take something good home while they’re at it,” she said.
Waao Bakery and Market is located in the Cypress Wood Plaza at 10436 W Atlantic Boulevard. The Waao bakery is open from 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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