Forty years after a Mexican immigrant family converted a small liquor store into a grocery market, Latino-themed grocery chain Northgate González Market marks a major anniversary milestone this month with 41 stores.
It all began when Don Miguel González first emigrated from Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, to the United States in the early 1960s seeking the American Dream. His small shoe making shop burned down and he realized he had to make a move to the United States to keep supporting his large family. He would return home every year and finally brought his whole family to the U.S. in 1976. In the United States, González and his children spent years working for others: welding iron, doing seamstress work, washing dishes and driving trucks.
Finally, González took out a loan and Miguel Jr. sold his home to buy a liquor store called Northgate in the city of Anaheim, which opened on Jan. 2, 1980. From day one, González and his 13 children worked in the store; they hired their first associate a year and a half later.
The matriarch of the family, Doña Teresa Reynoso de González, didn’t work inside the stores, but the company says she was highly instrumental in keeping the family business together. Today, more than 36 third generation González family members work for the company.
The González family did not have the money in 1980 to change the store’s original signage. When they raised the needed capital, they decided to keep the name when they realized “Northgate” reflected an even greater significance: ‘La puerta del norte’ alluding to their own family’s journey up north to make a better life for themselves.
Northgate González Market today
Northgate González Market has grown to nearly 6,000 associates serving hundreds of thousands of customers each week and has stores in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and recently ventured into the Inland Empire by opening a store in Riverside, California, this past November.
“Through the years, we have continuously been blessed with the opportunity to live the American dream courtesy of our loyal customers, associates and our family members,” said Miguel González, co-president of Northgate González Market. “We are constantly excited at the community’s overwhelming response and welcome each time we open a new store. Our business goal has always been to expand our grocery brand into key markets and provide opportunities to offer local consumers a fresh, new, exciting and authentic shopping experience with a beautiful and innovative format with customer service that exceeds everyone’s expectations.”
The company plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary with several programs for their customers and communities where the markets are located, including the owners surprising customers throughout the entire year by offering to pay their groceries.
“Forty years ago, the González family, including mother, father and 13 children, after leaving their mother country Mexico, opened a small grocery store in Anaheim to pursue the Great American Dream,” said Ruben Smith, board chair of the Latino Food Industry Association (LFIA). “Today with 41 supermarkets, they are the titans in the Latino grocery store industry and are the catalyst in assisting many others to achieve the American dream. LFIA is proud to honor your family and your success and can only dream about what the Northgate family will achieve in another 40 years.”
In 2000, the González Reynoso family founded the Familia González-Reynoso Foundation, awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships every year to students.
Northgate González Market offers scratch-made bolillo rolls, freshly made carnitas, fire-roasted split chicken and freshly made corn tortillas—made in house from masa that is still made from stone-ground corn every day.
The company offers its customers a full-service supermarket with a large meat department, bakery, tortilleria, fresh produce, and prepared foods in addition to a sizable section of domestic and imported Latin American grocery goods to provide a Mexican homeland experience. Northgate González Market is best known for many of its 40-year old signature items like marinated carne asada, chorizo and carnitas.