“We want to bring people together to have some fun and to celebrate the neighborhood and celebrate our customers and just have a really great cultural experience on Allied [Drive],” says Joe Maldonado, co-owner of Luna’s Grocery Store. “We don’t have a whole lot of events over in this part of town. So this is just a great event — an ongoing thing that we’re going to do every year to celebrate the neighborhood.”
Luna’s Groceries Block Party will be held this Saturday, Sept. 25, in Luna’s parking lot, located at 2010 Red Arrow Trail. The Maldonados – husband and wife, Joe and Mariam -opened their grocery store in Madison’s Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood in 2019, and quickly became an important part of a community and a vital resource for an area that had been a food desert for the previous decade.
“Luna’s Block Party is our annual celebration. We weren’t able to have it last year because of COVID, but it’s similar in format to the last one,” Joe Maldonado tells Madison365. “We have a really nice lineup and we are excited to see people in the community.”
There will be two DJs — DJ Van ‘Go and DJ Mirah — at the event and several musical artists performing along with some spoken-word poetry.
“We will have food vendors and some service organizations. There will be vendors selling arts and crafts and we will have an appearance by the Fitchburg Fire Department. They will bring their truck,” Maldanado says. “We’re also going to have DreamBikes doing bike repairs.
“And ice cream. We can’t leave out ice cream,” he adds, smiling. “We’ll have an ice cream truck that will come by.”
At the event, there will also be COVID-19 testing and vaccinations from Fitchburg Family Pharmacy, raffles and giveaways, arts and crafts, and more.
For those who love food, there will be plenty of diverse food choices.
“Ruthie’s is Black-owned. Les delices de Awa will be there. She is from the Ivory Coast. We will have some Venezuelan arepas. La Cocina de Mamá will be selling their Puerto Rican food, as well. Patience Clark from Palate Pleasures will be doing desserts,” Maldanado says. “We will also be selling brats and burgers.”
Putting together the event is quite an ordeal and they are still looking for volunteers for Luna’s Groceries Block Party.
“We need some people for the take-down and we need seven or eight volunteers for set-up,” Maldonado says.
The Maldonado family has lived in the Allied-Dunns Marsh Neighborhood for almost a decade and Luna’s Grocery store, which had always been a dream, came true – after a lot of hard work and planning – back in 2019.
“The store has been doing great,” Maldonado says. “No complaints so far.
“We are pretty excited that we will be selling a new beer and a new coffee that was created for Luna’s,” Maldonado adds. “We are working with Working Draft Brewery and they created a beer for us called Luna Llena, it’s a corn-based beer and an amber lager that was created just for us.
Natalie Ergas, a Madison-based collage artist, collaborated with Working Draft on the project to celebrate the beautiful diaspora of Latinx culture.
“We worked with Natalie, who runs a company called Native Essence Art. Natalie designed the beer can using products from Lunas and different things to represent the cultures that come together at Luna’s,” Maldonado says.
“Then we have Rescue Dog Coffee who is making a coffee blend, as well,” he adds. “We will be selling those at the store soon and all the proceeds from this will benefit the development of the new store.”
The “new store” will be a 24,000-square-foot grocery store on Park Street where Luna’s Groceries has been selected to partner with Rule Enterprises to be the primary retailer in the development sometime in 2022.
Maldonado is looking forward to building community at the new southside location and, who knows, maybe even another block party. But for this upcoming Luna’s Block Party on Saturday, he says that it’s important that most of the food vendors at the event represent the different cultures that are part of the Luna Grocery Stores.
“We really want to feature local vendors and local artists and local folks who do their thing at this event. We are not charging anything for this event; we’re just asking that people show up and support the local people and businesses … support the community,” Maldonado says.