Less than a year after the closure of an iconic produce stand at the Houston Farmers Market, its successor is leaving as well.
Owner Junior Saldana said Wednesday that Junior’s Produce, which in February replaced Canino Produce at 2520 Airline Dr., planned to close Thursday and reopen at a yet-to-be determined location. Saldana said he could not afford to pay rent amidst dwindling sales during the last two months, which he attributed to ongoing construction at the Heights farmers market.
Saldana said parking for his produce business, situated at the front of the market, has been limited and made his store less accessible.
“It’s too chaotic there at the market with all the construction going on,” he said. “We’re just trying to get our customers back and to another location.”
MLB Capital Partners, which purchased the 18-acre market in 2017, broke ground in early August on a major renovation project at the 77-year-old community staple. Managing principal Todd Mason said at the time that the developer wanted to maintain the market’s affordability, Hispanic culture and historic charm while modernizing its amenities, increasing its offerings and adding chef-driven restaurant concepts.
Mason has enlisted award-winning chef Chris Shepherd to help revitalize the market. Mason said in August that the renovation project, which he estimated will cost at least $35 million, was expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
Mason said the market, which has more than 80 vendors, would remain open during construction.
“While we cannot comment on the state of Junior’s business or the terms of his lease, many of our tenants continue to thrive and have expressed interest in growing their presence at the market,” Mason said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
Saldana thanked Mason for giving him the opportunity to operate at the market, where Canino Produce was in business for 60 years, and for supporting him during his eight-month tenure. He also said he plans to reopen the business, although he didn’t know exactly when or where on Wednesday.
“I want to continue this,” he said. “I love doing it and working with the farms.”