An enduring symbol of Mexican American entrepreneurship in East Austin is inching closer to becoming a city landmark, following a unanimous thumbs-up from the Historic Landmark Commission. The Green and White Grocery, a mainstay at the corner of Waller and East Seventh streets since 1938, was historically significant in shaping the community's identity. According to the Austin Monitor, commissioners recognized the icon's cultural importance, and the unanimous motion is set to be forwarded to the city’s Planning Commission.
Current owner John Cazares Jr., whose forebears cultivated the business for over eight decades, is also backing the historic zoning shift. Commissioner JuanRaymon Rubio lauded the establishment's lineage, saying, "The bottom line is that this place has been an institution for three generations because of the hard work and fortitude of Norverto Lopez, his family, and the community that uplifted them." The store's legacy includes transforming to meet the needs of its neighborhood, evolving from a food market to a botanica, and serving as a key hub for Chicano activism during the 1970s.
Since taking over the store in 1996, Cazares has had to adapt quickly to the gentrified changes of East Austin, rebranding the establishment from a grocery store to a retailer of spiritual and herbal commodities. Through aggressive urban development, he managed to maintain a connection to the area’s heritage, offering a wide array of medicinal herbs, oils, and candles, as detailed by the Austin Monitor.
If the Planning Commission and, eventually, the City Council render their approval, the historic zoning designation is poised to grant protection against redevelopment and afford a tax abatement for the property. This item has sparked pivotal conversations about the significance of preserving legacies in rapidly urbanizing neighborhoods. The initiative coincides with Preservation Austin's Barrio Landmarks Project, aimed at safeguarding East Austin's cultural heritage against the tides of change.