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Deleon opened her first location in 2018. Photo: Tiffany Rivera.
Deleon opened her first location in 2018. Photo: Tiffany Rivera.

EL Merkury unveils its second space at the Reading Terminal Market

The new spot will also focus more on serving Central American breakfast and brunch options.

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Sofia Deleon, the owner of El Merkury in Rittenhouse opened her second location, El Merkury at the Market, on Friday, April 16. 

On April 28, she was joined by Annie Allman, Reading Terminal Market CEO and Jennifer Rodriguez, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Reading Terminal Market Corporation board member for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

A day later, Deleon opened the space for the media to tour.

In addition to their homemade tortillas, pupusas and churros, employees also flaunted a new tool worn by employees meant to bring a sense of safety to customers.

They showcased their Immunabands, an identifiable bracelet that shows customers they have been fully vaccinated.

She described how crucial it is to show patrons that they are vaccinated and can safely serve them.

“I think every restaurant that cares about our staff made an effort to vaccinate their staff, because we are essential workers,” Deleon said in a recent interview with AL DIA News. “I am happy to let everyone know that we are fully vaccinated and it's safe to come in here and serve them.”

The event on April 29 was the first of its kind, and marked an important milestone for locals who will be out and about this summer.

Deleon is hopeful that the Immunabands will be a discrete and unique way to guarantee safe service. They will also be convenient to wear while cooking and preparing dishes.

“Because our store is indoors, if our band helps even one customer get a sense of safety because we are all vaccinated, that's great, there will be one more customer that we get to serve,” she said.

She is hoping that by using Immunabands, other restaurants will take the initiative to offer the bracelets to their own employees, and ensure that they also get vaccinated.

Deleon was born and raised in Guatemala and moved to the U.S. in 2012 to pursue her education in business. It wasn't too long before she developed a love of cooking dishes that reminded her of her home.

She quickly received a welcome from locals in Philadelphia when she opened her first location in Rittenhouse Square in 2018, which made a major impact in the Philadelphia restaurant scene.

El Merkury at the Market will have a different spin on Guatemalan dishes offered at the flagship location, and will be offering breakfast and brunch staples reminiscent of Central America.

“I wanted to make sure that we will be able to sell breakfast and lunch, which is something that we don't offer at the Chestnut street location, at least, not yet,” said Deleon.

In addition to their made-to-order churros that are crispy on the outside, soft and light on the inside, coated with cinnamon sugar, Deleon will be offering Baleadas, a traditional Honduran breakfast staple.

It is composed with a grilled tortilla, and filling it with refried beans, crumbled queso fresco, and avocado. Locals also typically add a fried egg to the dish. The tortilla is then sealed and served hot and fresh.

“We also have breakfast pupusas and fresh coffee,” said Deleon.

Breakfast pupusas can be filled with black bean quesillo, a fried egg, and pork chicharon.

The Reading Terminal Market location will also cater to a deli-style service, where customers can buy food in bigger quantities to feed their families at home.

“We also offer Mercato right now, so we are also selling tortillas by the pound, and other foods by the pound,” she said.

Customers can also get their famous three-cheese rice by the pound along with plantain chips, freshly-made guacamole, and pickled vegetables on the side.

El Merkury at the Market will be opened Monday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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