Feature photo: Beatriz Hernandez, sitting, with children Eloy Mendoza, Jr., Dulce Mendoza and Hodalis Mendoza. All photos by Meredith Winner, Mer-Made Photography
By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
VINELAND â€“ Beatriz Hernandez just knew there was something bigger out there waiting for her — something that would utilize her God-given talents, inspire her children and allow her to give back to the community.
The owner of B’s Mini Market, at 301 W. Almond St., in Vineland wasn’t going to let tough times, learning on the fly â€“ or even the coronavirus pandemic â€“ stop her from chasing and capturing her dream. The restaurant and grocery store stands as a testament to one woman’s determination and unflinching faith to create a better life for her and her family.
Aisles and aisles of Mexican and international grocery products along with fresh produce line B’s Mini Market shelves and customers steadily walk through their doors. As Christian musical tones quietly fill the air, Hernandez is often not seen but her influence is everywhere.
One gets an easiness of peace and family walking into the store, something that is done by design. Three of Hernandez’s four children â€“ Hodalis Mendoza, 19, Eloy Mendoza, Jr., 18, and Dulce Mendoza, 16 â€“ all play a role in keeping the store going. Eloy Mendoza is a graduating senior at Vineland High School and Dulce Mendoza still attends.
Her oldest son, Edward Mendoza, works at another establishment.
Hernandez jokes, but with as sense of truth, that she is not just the owner, but cook, cleaner, merchandiser and whatever other title is needed to keep her dream going.
“I do everything and when I go home I do it all over again,” Hernandez told Front Runner La Prensa in a recent visit to her store. Her story is representative of the how dream mixed with focus, determination faith and entrepreneurial spirit and open unimaginable doors.
Hernandez, 39, came to United States from Oaxaca, Mexico at 16, to help her family and lived in Bridgeton for nearly two decades before moving to Vineland to find a better life for her family. But she wanted more than the jobs she took would provide.
Never Settling For Less
“I was never the kind of person that would settle for anything less than what I knew I was capable of,” Hernandez said. “Work-wise, I always put optimal effort into everything I did and when things didnâ€™t work out, I even made it a requirement for myself to obtain a job better than my previous one.”
“I always strive for better but after working in many different environments — from working in a bakery to a nursery to a dental office — I soon realized that I wasnâ€™t satisfied with what I was doing and knew I couldnâ€™t find that satisfaction working for someone else,” she added.
B’s Mini Market offer authentic Mexican dishes along with Mexican and international grocery, bringing the heart of Mexico to this Vineland neighborhood from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except for Saturdays. That’s went the family attends church as Seventh-Day Adventists.
Hernandez said she sees the business an extension of her family.
A Mother’s Love
“My main reason for wanting to start my own business was for my kid’s well being,” Hernandez said. “As a mother, I didn’t want to see them struggle in life, as I did. I wanted to provide them with something to help sustain them and give them a source of income in the future, so I did.
“I decided to open a grocery store/restaurant because I wanted to do something that would give back to the community. By opening up a store, I know that I will soon be able to hire people and provide them with jobs once the business is running smoothly. Cooking has also been one of my passions so it was optimal for us to think about starting a restaurant to spread nothing but joy and positivity through not only products but good food as well,” she added.
Along with delicious dishes, the grocery store offers fresh produce and a variety of Mexican products, drinks, snacks and accessories.
How Hernandez arrived at what her business is today took a lot of learning, adjusting and just plain old persistence and resolve.
Going On Faith
“I wasn’t sure how to start a business or where it would even be I just knew that I had to start,” Hernandez said. “So my search for a building began. After many letdowns, we decided to wait since it seemed like there were no available locations. One day, as I was randomly driving around with my youngest daughter, I thought to myself, I know I’ll find a building someday, without expecting to drive by our current location that same day. I took it as a sign from God and went from there, not knowing what to expect.
“From working as an employee to working as my own boss — with no prior experience — starting the business was definitely one of the most challenging things Iâ€™ve ever done. But through all the trials and tribulations, I persevered and never gave up,” Hernandez continued.
As a woman of faith, Hernandez said there were plenty of times where she just had to let God led and trust in Him “even when things weren’t looking good.”
“He kept me firm and strong through this whole process, something I don’t think I would’ve been able to do without Him. I also knew that if I stopped pursuing my dream, I would be showing my kids that it’s okay to start something and give up when things get hard. I didn’t want to set a bad example for them by letting them think that giving up is ever the answer to anything,” she said.
B’s Mini Market opened its doors with a grand opening Sept. 29, 2019, joined by children and quickly developed a loyal customer base.
“I still remember the first couple of faces we’ve seen walking through the door and seeing
them come back almost every week was unbelievable,” Hernandez said. “There are so many people who support us and are even proud to see how much weâ€™ve grown as a business. It truly feels as though they have become part of our little family.”
Then the unexpected happened. The coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions starting March 2020, only seven months after B’s Mini Market opened, forced people to stay at home, reframed them to eating indoors and strained even established businesses to the brink.
Again, Hernandez said she called on her faith in God â€“ and family — and went to work, established delivery partnerships with GrubHub and DoorDash on the fly and other measures to keep her dream alive. Her customers in the end, stuck with her as well.
“It goes without saying that our faith in God has definitely helped my family and I stay strong and determined so that we can keep waking up every morning, work hard every day, and do our
best to spread love of positivity to the community,” Hernandez said. “I am sure that one day, we will be able to grow much more than we’d ever imagined.”
One fan is New Jersey State Sen. Mike Testa, who lives in Vineland, who left a glowing review of the business on April 27.
“Having some out of this world Birria Tacos on Taco Tuesday,” the senator said in his review. “Support your local restaurants. Folks, I have found a new gem!”
“It’s surreal to think about how far we’ve come and we love the fact that we get to share that with so many people,” Hernandez said. “Words cannot express how happy and thankful I am for everyone who has constantly been there for us since the beginning. From the bottom of my heart, I am extremely blessed to have such loyal customers who have supported me throughout this whole journey. We really wouldnâ€™t be where we are today without them.”
The blessing come after she took a gamble moving from Bridgeton after 17 years to Vineland in in 2018 in hopes to give her family a better life.
“Although raising a family as a single mother is hard, the fact that God has always been
with me and will always be with me has given me the greatest strength to do anything,” Hernandez said. “He has blessed me with my beautiful children and has gracefully placed this amazing opportunity in my path for a reason. That alone has given me the determination to keep going, push through all the negativity from those who’ve ever doubted me, and continue to do my best to grow the business.”
Now working as a successful business owner, Hernandez said she doesn’t see herself as a role model, but just doing what she feels is the right thing for herself, her children and the community around her.
“As far as being a role model, it’s not something I would consider myself,” she said. “But if people do see me as a role model, I am truly blessed to be one. However, I would argue that people are more capable of doing things than they realize and strongly encourage others to have faith that they can do all things through God.”
Hernandez said she is grateful for the chance to provide for her family and community.
“I would’ve never imagined that I would be here today, running a business with my family
by my side,” Hernandez said. “We have seen firsthand how much of an impact our business has had on the community and that alone is extremely heartwarming.”
In the end, Hernandez said B’s Mini Market is about family.
“We’ve done nothing but help each other out and encourage one another to keep moving forward,” Hernandez said of her family. “We need each other and are always supportive of one another, even in times of doubt and uncertainty. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing family.”
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