We have yet again added a couple of quality-of-life businesses to our downtown over the past couple of months. One addition is found in the Green Apple Market, and the other the Poke House. Both offer something unique to downtown worthy of a visit.

The Green Apple Market sits on Court Street between Main and Center streets a couple of doors down from Starbucks. It is reminiscent of the bodega-style market throughout the boroughs of New York, but a nonexistent convenience in our own downtown. Here you can find the typical city mart items like chips, cookies, beef jerky, dried fruits and nuts, among other on-the-go snacks. This is paired with a stocked cooler of non-alcoholic drinks such as Gatorade, sodas, energy drinks and bottled water. However, Green Apple goes on to add a twist to your average mart experience, this through various menu items offered. There is a smoothie and juice bar, with such drinks as the Bur-Berry made with almond milk, Greek yogurt, berries and dates. Or grab a Banana Nut smoothie made with oats, cinnamon, honey, walnuts, banana and almond meal. Other immune-system booster drinks are such juices as the Green Apple Detox, made with cucumber, lemon, parsley, kale, ginger and green apple. There is orange or carrot juice available, or the Mother Earth, made from parsley, kale, celery, cucumber, green apple, lemon, spinach and ginger. There is also a cooler of specialty bottled drinks such as coconut milk-based beverages or specialty cold tea drinks that contain immune-boosting agents, or with herbs and cultures to keep your body strong while on the move.

There is another reason that you will find the market bustling with downtown shoppers and employees on weekday afternoons or evenings, and that’s from the hardy food menu offered. On the lighter side is a salad selection that includes apple or strawberry salads with the option of chicken toppings. Or a selection of wraps such as the turkey sprout and hummus wrap. On the substantially filling end, you may order a Philly cheesesteak sandwich large enough to share. If you enjoy hamburgers, you can order one with one to four patties, with such toppings as pastrami, bacon, avocado or peppers. For early risers, the Green Apple Market has fresh-brewed coffee, breakfast burritos or bagel-based sandwiches.

When owner-operator Junior Muharram is asked “why the market, why downtown?” he simply says of the convenience store: “It’s the only thing missing in downtown.” The statement rings true for those in need of anything from pain relievers to pastrami sandwiches when on a quick break from work. The store is rapidly becoming a must stop for downtown professionals, but worth the drive from any part of town to experience.

The other new attraction on Main Street is the Poke House. Okay, for starters, we are going to learn how to properly pronounce this trending food choice title: It’s Poh-kay. Now that we have that cleared up, lets get you educated on the rest. Poke, in a sense, is a Hawaiian-created style of sushi salad. At many poke restaurants, the customer can build their own bowl.

Poke House operates this way as well, and it has simplified the process so that anyone can walk in for the first time and not be intimidated. Through a five-step process, you start by picking your base. Choices include brown or white rice, or mixed greens. Second, you choose your protein from more than a dozen items, from shrimp or scallops to spicy or Scottish salmon. Cooked chicken breast or tofu are offered for those not into fish or meat. The third step involves choosing your toppings. Here, you get up to five items such as mango salsa, edamame (soy bean), masago (fish roe), seaweed salad or sushi ginger, to name a few. Now onto the fourth step, picking your poke sauce. There are eight choices, which allow you to change up the flavor of your bowl on return trips, such as the House Spicy Mayo, Yuzu Pepper or Soy and Sweet. To finish off the process, step five has you “adding some crunch” to the creation. Here you may do Crispy Garlic, Crushed Cashews or Tempura Crumbles.

If you want to trust the professionals, you can do that, too, by ordering a House Bowl prepared one of three ways, featuring a multitude of flavor and healthy food with very little processing. For those who want to stay on the familiar side of tastes, Poke House also offers teriyaki bowls of beef, chicken or shrimp and traditional Japanese appetizers such as pot stickers and egg rolls.

There is something worth adding about both enterprises that makes them patron-worthy. Both are owned by people already operating within our city limits.

Green Apple Market is run by the owner of the soon-to-relocate Doc’s Drive-In on Main and Willis Steet, slated to open in the next year.

Poke House is owned by Billy Sung, who has operated Gozen Japanese Restaurant. The Caldwell Avenue restaurant has been going Visalia strong for more than a decade.

Both business owners believe in the power of patronage within our city, as they bring us yet another opportunity to experience something new and needed.