Growing their business, which began as a small produce distribution company back in 1982, has been a career, which owners Jill and Gaylord Aker of Downtown Produce Market and More say has been the result of “hard work and consistency.”

The 8,000 square foot, 7.5-acre wholesale and retail facility located on Ellis Road in Melbourne, has become one of the most successful family-owned businesses in the area. Not only has their business expanded three-fold in the last three decades, the “farmers market with a gourmet touch” now employs more than 122 people and owns 32 large refrigerated trucks that deliver produce and more, serving the diverse wholesale needs of hundreds of restaurants, schools, hospitals and other institutions from Ocala to Tampa and in between.

The Downtown Produce retail outlet, opened to the public in 2006, now offers thousands of ethnic and gourmet foods from around the world, allowing the most discriminating “foodies” a way to satisfy their most unique food cravings.

Under the supervision of head chef Roberto Traversa, Downtown Produce now offers a unique variety of ready-to-eat gourmet meals, along with more than 30 different brands of sauces, pastas, cheese and nut selections, a full service meat and seafood department and deli, as well as more than 2,000 selections of the finest wines and nearly 1,000 different beers and micro brews from around the globe.

Expand or Expire

With plans for even more expansion in the future, the Akers, who admit their efforts to make their business a success has left them with little time off, said reaping the rewards of being in this business has been one that has been most fulfilling to them.

“Our motto for our business has always been ‘Expand or Expire,’” said Mrs. Aker, “and with the help of our sons Ian and Russell, who have worked with us since they were able to speak, along with our dedicated employees, we have had the good fortune to make our goals a reality. We are focused on striving to continue to satisfy customers by offering quality, convenience and affordable prices.” u