Sierra Sun Times

El Portal Market
By Linda Gast




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El Portal Market

New owner, of the El Portal Market - Kirstie Kari  operating a cash register


The  El Portal Market looks shiny and new.  Employee, Anna Laird, greets customers as she stacks watermelons in a bin outside.  Once inside you find the new owner, Kirstie Kari working hard at the computer logging in the latest shipment of produce.  Some thing's haven't changed.  Hugh Carter, the former owner, is busy working in the new Deli and Produce section.  Hugh says, "I am just working for the summer, helping out."  He smiles and says, Lou, his wife told him he had to get out of the house.  There is an old fireplace from the old restaurant that was located in the building years ago. 
 A Grand Opening on the evening of  July 1st was held for the locals to say 'Thank You', for their support.  Kirstie comments, "I wondered if it was ever going to happen. The locals were very supportive and without them I don't know if I could have done it."  The old store burned down on April 21, 2008 a few weeks after Kirstie took possession.  She opened the new store on May 28, 2009. The people of El Portal get special privileges like a Coffee Club and Personal Accounts.  The market is open from 7AM until 9PM everyday and has seven full-time employees. 
The market is stocked with a little of everything for locals and tourists.  Organic produce and a good size local wine section, most under $20 can be found.  The Deli section has fresh sandwiches and salads.  The tables in front of the fireplace make a nice place to enjoy your lunch.  The clientele is made up of residents and tourists.  It is the only store between Midpines and Yosemite Park on the drive along the Merced River Canyon.   The river is steps away across the road and the entrance to Yosemite is a few miles up the highway.   
The market was so busy,  Kirstie found it hard to find time to answer questions.  The customers lined up at the two checkout registers.  The locals all expressed happiness at having the store open again.  Artist Susan Bolen was hanging some of her paintings on the walls and is very pleased to have a place to display and sell her art locally ( Another local artist, Penny Otwell has one of her works of art already hung up on the walls ( . 
It was sad to see the old store burn, but everyone hopes that the new store will thrive and prosper.

Linda Gast




All photos and articles - Copyright Linda Gast

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