Pedro Hernandez waves a gloved hand from inside the one grocery store where you don’t have to get out of your car.
Thanks to the coronavirus, business is brisk at South Florida’s Farm Stores.
The scent of fresh baked bread puffs as Hernandez slides open the drive-up window at 4741 SW Eighth St., one of its 34 drive-through-only convenience stores in Miami-Dade County alone. Locations and hours are available online at the website.
This is more than a quickie mart.
Farm Stores, known to Latins as la vaquita for the “little cow” in its logo, have worked quietly to rebrand over the last few years to include many more items than you might expect, including beer and wine.
Operating as drive-through convenience stores since 1957, Farm Stores sell their own brand of eggs, milk and flavors of ice cream, such as Heavenly Hash, for which they are famous. And they do it all only through their vaquita ventanitas.
But the new Farm Stores also sell sliced cheese, cold cuts, water, cereal, sugar and coffee (including Pilón and La Llave) and disposable plates and utensils.
And at Farm Stores in Miami, you’ll find everything from your morning café con leche or cortadito to fresh-baked Cuban bread, cheese-stuffed tequeños, cachitos, arepas de choclo, empanadas and flan. And you don’t have to leave your car.
The Eighth Street location even sells Danny’s Cuban Pizza for pick up or delivery. And many of their items are available through Postmates or Uber Eats.
“We sell everything,” said Hernandez, the manager at the Eighth Street location. “And it’s convenient because you don’t even have to get down from your car.”
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Some former Farm Stores buildings have been repurposed over the years, from dry cleaners to smoothie shops to a drive-through Cuban restaurant that serves craft beer. But many are surprised to learn the Farm Stores company is still going strong.
Cars steadily drove up to the front and back drive-up windows Monday morning with shoppers looking for convenience at a social distance.
“You really don’t want to go to the store right now, especially with a child,” said Vanessa Armas, pulling in for her daily cortadito with her 9-year-old son in the passenger seat and on the way to see her mother in the hospital. “You have to take precautions.”
Hernandez was a doctor in Venezuela, with a specialty in nutrition, before coming to Miami a year ago. He swapped his latex gloves often as he handed shoppers their food and extended a credit card machine so they could swipe their own cards.
Diana Armenteros walked up — yes, shoppers can walk up to the drive-through window — for a colada and two loaves of Cuban bread.
“You can come even late at night and you don’t have to get (out of your car),” she said. “And honestly the products are great. The bread is divine.”
Hernandez said there has been a run on the basics — bread, eggs and dairy — as he signed off on a Monday morning delivery. One shopper who didn’t want to give his last name, on his break from his job at Home Depot, pulled through for a pack of condoms.
And yes, Hernandez added, Farm Stores do carry toilet paper.
Hours and location info: FarmStores.com