You might not expect a new business to open during a pandemic, but Rick Dominguez has just opened Rick’s Produce Market at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd Street and Faifax Avenue. Dominguez, a farmer/owner, comes to the Original Farmers Market with more than 14 years of organic farming experience at his family farm in Fallbrook, California. He opened a smaller pop-up space at the OFM last year, but last Friday, he cut the ribbon on a new 1,300 square foot space on the south side of the market, where he can show off his locally grown produce. Plus there’s a small kitchen where he prepares smoothies and shakes, Acai bowls, to-go salads, and toasts and sandwiches. Dominguez told the Buzz he’s been planning his move for at least a year, and is very excited to finally be open, pandemic or not!
“I was honored when the management of The Original Farmers Market approached me about opening a second, larger location at Third and Fairfax,” said Dominguez. “This has been Los Angeles’ go-to spot for groceries since 1934, when farmers first sold their goods from the back of pick-up trucks! I am thrilled to play a part in the Market’s continuing legacy.”
Born in Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles, Dominguez found his way to agriculture in 2007. While working in real estate amidst the housing market crash, he says he longed to shift focus to something more purposeful and essential. He began by helping his independent farmer friend sell avocados at the East Hollywood farmers market, and he discovered a newfound passion and knack for the trade. It was through this entrepreneurial education and flexibility that he was able to start his own business and succeed, even in 2020 amidst the ongoing pandemic. He grew a reliable customer base and met their needs with ease and quick response, aiding individual and family customers instead of depending on large-scale restaurant accounts.
“Working at the farmers market was life-changing,” said Dominguez. “I loved building relationships with the customers and community, and I found myself wanting to grow and expand.”
Dominguez leased seven acres of land in 2014, and he began to live his dream of selling his own produce at area farmers markets. Slowly but surely, he grew his customer base of chefs and restaurants, thanks to his personable qualities and commitment to seasonal, organic farming. In 2017, he opened his first storefront in Silver Lake, along with his business partner Alejandro Verduzco, and began selling farm fresh produce along with fresh-squeezed juice, acai bowls, and guacamole, among other produce-forward dishes. This menu works hand-in-hand with Dominguez’s strategy to limit food waste and maximize the use of each fruit and vegetable. Before food expires, Dominguez incorporates it into his delicious pre-prepared food options, and produce that is past its prime is re-incorporated into his farm’s soil as a natural fertilizer.
This is the first time in many years that a “farmer-owned” business will be selling direct-to-consumers at The Original Farmers Market.
“Rick’s Produce is a fantastic, new addition to our grocery program,” said Stan Savage, Executive Vice President of The A.F. Gilmore Company, longtime owner of The Original Farmers Market. “Rick and his family have taken such care in cultivating their farm’s crops and developing their brick-and-mortar produce business. They are truly emblematic of the entrepreneurial spirit that our family-owned businesses have thrived on for 86 years and we look forward to their long and continued success at the Market.”
Rick’s Produce will be open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily, with rotating seasonal produce and menu items posted on the store’s Instagram page and on-site signage. The store, alongside The Original Farmers Market, is committed to customer and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff wear masks, have hand sanitizer on-hand for guests, and do their best to ensure adequate social distance. Rick’s Produce is also available online for home delivery on The Original Farmers Market page at mercato.com.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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