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Alma Romero and Marcos Tlacopilco
Immigrants from Puebla, Mexico have found a home in the Italian Market, becoming 2023 Al DÍA Top Entrepreneur Partnership Award holders. Photo: German Vazquez

Alma del Mar's innovative and culturally inclusive dishes are improving the community’s health

Alma Romero and Marcos Tlacopilco were chosen for the 2023 AL DÍA Top Entrepreneur Partnership Award.

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For the past 25 years, Alma Romero and Marcos Tlacopilco have been chasing the American Dream—immigrants from Puebla, Mexico, a city known for its culinary history and architecture, were left behind in hopes of a better life and future. 

Marcos's motivation is to “fight for the children….to give them a better and good future,” something he admits his children do not understand, often addressing the absence of family time—finding himself explaining, “it is a little difficult, more so for an immigrant, because we have to work twice as hard. We have to learn things quickly.”  

Venturing into the role of entrepreneurship with strides—learning a trade of his own accord, Marcos focused on learning about the fish market business.

Marco’s Fish Market & Crab House & Alma del Mar

Marco’s Fish Market & Crab House was the couples’ first business, an endeavor that Tlacopilco says took him “ten years to understand the whole business of buying and finding vendors”—but was founded out of necessity. 

“Necessity forces us to be creative with our circumstances,” assures Tlacopilco, who conducts a lot of research before driving to New York or Maryland to meet his vendors and dictate which of the two places is better for him every two or three days. 

Marco’s Fish Market & Crab House also supplies the restaurant, Alma del Mar, by distributing fresh seafood and fish needed for all dishes it has. 

“Put your heart into everything you do” is Alma del Mar’s motto, a sentiment very dear to Marcos’ and Alma’s hearts—sharing that they often tell their children, “if they are going to do [something], do it well, and if they are not going to it well, it is better not to do it at all.”

The couple has taken courses to improve their culinary skills and decipher the community's needs by providing innovative and culturally inclusive dishes, improving the community’s health, and educating the Latino community on the importance of consuming fish. 

“It is a little difficult for our community to understand that fish is essential and that we need it within our environment,” explained Marcos. 

But also the importance of consuming freshwater fish which contains various vitamins and minerals like calcium, iodine, zinc, iron, and selenium—a source of healthy fats that has essential nutrients that combat hunger and malnutrition. 

If you are new to Alma del Mar, Marcos recommends you try the Grilled Octopus, served all day. Alma suggests you try her Chilaquiles Rojos, corn tortillas (chips) covered in a red sauce topped with avocado, sour cream, and chopped onion, over easy egg and steak.

 

The couple expresses that Alma del Mar is also a place to celebrate birthdays and host different events. They are always able to adapt to any situation and request. 

Partnership Award

Feeling overlooked by the community and comparing their dedication to that of a woodpecker, Alma explains that they (referencing her husband and her efforts) are always fighting. 

Fifteen years ago, they tried buying a business, but the owner died during the process, and they lost all that money—starting all over again. 

Opening in the middle of the pandemic was challenging, explained Alma, who stresses that honest work and handwork make everything possible. 

“The award fills us with encouragement. As we said before, we felt that we did not exist,” Marcos explained. “But we see that in some way the community or the town recognizes [our efforts], and for us, it is beautiful.”

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