Say it with me – BO-DE-GA. Yes, very good!
What: Bodega Where: 368 Second Street, Downtown Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm
Anybody who knows much about living in New York City will be familiar with the concept of a bodega; bodegas (that’s Spanish for small store) are community hubs, offering grocery-store necessities and treats in a convenient residential location. Bodega owners and customers often develop a rapport, and the small, family-owned shops tend to grow to reflect the needs and desires of the neighborhood they’re in and its inhabitants. Downtown Macon, while of course not NYC-level in scope, has been experiencing a vibrant burst of growth for awhile now. Lots of folks live and work downtown, and the options for places to live and work are ever-expanding as revitalization continues – but until recently, if you ran out of toilet paper or wanted to pick up a six-pack of beer, you’d have to haul it down to your car and drive to the nearest strip-mall grocery store or drugstore, a less than ideal option. Now, though, thanks to owners Michael Dean and his wife Cassi Roberts, we have our own little store on Second Street (aptly named “bo-de-ga”), opened to meet these needs and grow with the community.
Michael Dean has worked with the Moonhanger Group for four years, taking over as Director of Operations in January of this year. He and Cassi lived for several years in the space right above the storefront where bo-de-ga is currently located, and they couldn’t help noticing the lack of options for simple grocery needs in the neighborhood. The thought of opening such a store themselves began to grow on them more and more; one thing led to another, they acquired the building on January 1, and three months later, on April 1 of this year, bo-de-ga opened its doors.
Michael and Cassi had been batting around ideas for what they should call their store when the perfect name came to them during a late night viewing of Dave Chappelle’s 1998 stoner-genius comedy Half-Baked – anyone familiar with that movie will remember the scene in which Dave’s character takes a moment to address the audience about NYC bodegas (“Say it with me – BO-DE-GA. Yes, very good!”) and their occasional potential as places where one might be able to hook up with some, um, greenery. Unlike the bodega in the movie, the Second Street store won’t be offering anything greener than kale, but keep your eyes peeled for a framed photo of the ever-inspirational Dave Chappelle to be displayed in the store – and please, don’t moon the cashier.
As of right now, the store is still working on building its stock to suit the needs of its customers – they offer sodas, beer, cigarettes, toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, and a small assortment of food items. If you visit the store and don’t see what you’re looking for, though, please be sure to let them know – they keep a notebook behind the counter to log customer requests, and after the store closes each evening, they do their best to go out and get you what you asked fo. “I don’t care if it’s fresh pears or frozen peas,” Michael says, “Ask us, and we’ll do our best to get it for you quick. That’s gonna be how we grow our store.”
Eventually, Michael and Cassi would like for bo-de-ga to become a more full-fledged grocery store, one that would stock all the ingredients you’d need to prepare a complete meal. Michael’s brother owns The Butcher Shop in Warner Robins, which is renowned for their high-quality meats, and there’s an additional room in the Second Street store that would be perfect for a butcher shop/deli counter type situation. As of right now, bo-de-ga will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 7 pm, though they will stay open later during special occasions like Bragg Jam or First Friday. Downtown dwellers, stop by and get to know the crew – and let them get to know you and your needs, too, so they can work to do what they most want to do, which is to customize their store to best serve the surrounding community.