Marketplace Mall is slated to get five new tenants next year: A favorite empanada stop is one of them

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop is known in Rochester for its empanadas. The business has been inside the public market for over two decades, but the owner says he’s been making empanadas with his wife for close to 50 years, so expanding is a dream for them.

“It’s a dream come true, we’ve had this idea, my wife and I, for several years,” the owner, Juan Contreras said.

The smell of fresh empanadas has filled the public market for 22 years. That smell is about to travel to a bigger space, inside The Marketplace Mall, which is transforming into a “reinvented, revitalized, mixed-used, lifestyle center with retail, medical, entertainment, housewares, dining, services, and even lodging,” according to the mall’s developer, Wilmorite.

“We’re excited about the project,” said Jonathan Dower, Wilmorite’s vice president of leasing. “This mixed-use development with medical, retail, and entertainment, I’m confident is going to be something that other developers nationwide really look at what we’ve done with marketplace. And that’ll kind of be the blueprint for redevelopment across the country.”

Juan and Maria’s is a Rochester Public Market favorite. They will open the new location in the food court in January, with their beloved empanadas.

“I’m excited for for them to be part of the project,” Dower said of Juan and Maria’s. “And, quite frankly, we’d like to add more local operators that have that following and really transform the food court from what you see with all kinds of national [franchises] where you’ve seen it in other places, and really try to have those local gems.”

But don’t worry, the location inside the market will stay where it is. Customers are more than excited.

“They are actually really great, they’re so great, they taste so good, it’s addictive,” repeat customers, Evan and Konstantinos told News10NBC.

Juan and Maria’s serve up about 3,000 empanadas a week, which is one of the reasons they need a bigger space. That’s a lot of empanadas! Juan says it all started in his kitchen 45 years ago.

“When Maria and I got married, yes we sold them out of the house, we used to bring the empanadas to my coworkers,” Juan said.

Juan’s son, Ben Contreras has also taken part in the family business. Ben says in the last 22 years at the public market, he’s seen customers grow, and looks forward to that inside Marketplace.

“I recall babies coming with their moms, and they’re here now, and they’re telling me they’re in college, so it’s been an interesting ride, to say the least,” Ben added.

So how did Marketplace Mall become the option? Well, Juan says they put a poll on Facebook, and thousands of people voted for the Henrietta, Brighton area to be the next location for the restaurant, and here it is!