Most convenience stores are known exactly for that, ease and convenience. But the Manatee Avenue Market store is different. It is the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Tracy and Andre. They both have extensive experience in the restaurant business.
Andre has run a good number of restaurant kitchens and Tracy was a server for many years. They came across the opportunity of taking over this convenience store about a year and a half ago.
After going through the downturn in the restaurant industry during the pandemic, they decided that it was time to do something else.
Their desire to set themselves apart from other convenience stores led to having the gumbo food truck permanently on the site, opening a deli counter, and offering daily soup specials at the store.
They’ve been successful with their concept and this store has become a neighborhood gathering place. I witnessed many regulars walking in and greeted by their first name.
Let’s start with the food truck, Gumbozilla. The truck sits in their parking lot at the corner of Manatee Avenue West and 51st Street. Andre makes an incredible Seafood Gumbo loaded with andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp, peppers and onions.
While the food truck may not be open every day, the gumbo and other soups are always available inside the market.
Other soups they offer include Chicken & Dumplings and Cheeseburger Soup. These are all three that I’ve had so far and they are fantastic.
They offer a few tables as well. If you choose to dine in the market, you’ll see the huge following these soups bring to the store. The Seafood Gumbo is always on the menu but soup selections rotate frequently. I suggest checking out the Manatee Ave Market & Gumbozilla Facebook page to see what they’re serving each day.
They also have a good selection of fresh made sandwiches, salads and deli salads such as Chicken Salad, Egg Salad and Tuna Salad available in several size containers. These are made in-house and ready to go.
A Garden Salad, a Chef Salad and a Greek Salad are all available at market. Their sandwich selection includes an Italian Hoagie, Cuban Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich, Egg Salad, Tuna Salad, and Chicken Salad Sandwiches in a variety of breads including roll, wheat, white and rye.
A pressed Cuban sandwich is one that has become my favorite. It rivals any Ybor City sandwich I’ve ever had.
It’s easy to get used to visiting this place, thanks to the friendly service, great food, easy “to-go” options and excellent soups.
Their deli, salad and soup offerings are so impressive, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Manatee Avenue Market is also a convenience store. They have soda, juices, water, dog food, packaged food, beer, wine and all those other things you run to the corner store for.
I wish I had a place like this where I live but I don’t. That’s why I drive there when I’m in that neighborhood. Go give them a try – you’ll be glad you did!
Gumbozilla and Manatee Avenue Market are located at:
5104 Manatee Ave West
Monday – Saturday 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm