2019-09-02 12:33:45

When sisters Claudia and Goretti Enrrigue were kids growing up in a small town in Mexico’s Jalisco state, their father, Roberto Saucedo, ran a store connected to their house. It was an experience that helped prepare the family for opening up Jalisco Market in Gaylord four years ago.

“I remember a little, not much,” Goretti Enrrigue said. “But it was smaller than this one. It didn’t have either produce or meat.”

One thing she does remember vividly is playing the classic Mario Brothers video game machine at the store. With that kind of entertainment at their fingertips, the kids acted as a lookout for customers when their mother was in the kitchen preparing a meal.

“If we were playing my mom would say, ‘I’m going to be cooking; if we have a customer just call me,’” Goretti said.

The family relocated to Minnesota 16 years ago to pursue economic opportunities and lived with friends in Morton, about 50 miles west of Gaylord. Shortly after, Claudia Enrrigue, Goretti Enrrigue’s husband Sergio and father Robert Saucedo began working at Michael Foods, a food processor and distributor with a plant in Gaylord.

Then in 2015, two brothers and friends of the family announced they were moving to Texas and would be selling the Mexican market, at the time called Fiesta Mexicana, in downtown Gaylord. The family had been thinking about owning a business, but weren’t sure what kind.

When the opportunity presented itself, they decided to take the plunge, and that catapulted them into new territory, including a butcher shop, and a food truck. They named it Jalisco Market in homage to their home state in Mexico, where uniquely Mexican cultural traditions like Mariachi bands and tequila originate from.

Goretti Enrrigue said the previous owners offered a lot of helpful advice and suggestions for the transition, although some of the ins and outs of running a market were learned as they went. They found a good vendor in Chicago that distributes Mexican groceries, but finding someone to deliver their inventory by truck was more difficult due to the rural location.

“At the beginning it was really hard to find vendors who liked to come to the store because it was far away from the main (roads) like Highway 169 or 212,” Goretti Enrrigue said. “We’re in the middle of those, but they didn’t want to come unless it was a big order.”

Loyal customers

With some trial and error, they began to connect with other vendors and drivers coming to the area. Jalisco Market is known for catering to customers not just from Mexico, but also people from countries like El Salvador and Honduras who are looking for spices and ingredients for traditional dishes like homemade tortillas and tamales during holiday celebrations.

“We now have 200 customers that come often,” Robert Saucedo said as he was busy working behind the counter.

That loyalty likely stems at least partially from the fact that Jalisco Market is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. While Claudia Enrrigue is the sole proprietor, several family members work there. The shelves are lined with spices, sauces, produce, meat and uniquely Mexican drinks. Some of the most popular products are the uniquely spicy Mexican candies that cover the shelves on the back aisle.

“We have different kinds of candies, these are watermelon candies, these are mango flavor,” Claudia Enrrigue said. “The tamarind candies, like Banderilla Tamarindo, are spicy.”

The market’s food truck, called Four Bros. Cocina Latina, is a name shortened from “brothers and sisters.” The Enrrigue sisters also have one brother and another sister. All the family members prepare the food for the truck that runs Tuesday through Sunday. This is their third year selling tacos, quesadillas and corn at the parking lot of nearby Jerry’s Home Quality Foods, the other grocery store in town.

The family also takes the food truck to Arlington and Winthrop, although they took a break from travelling to Winthrop as Goretti Enrrigue had a baby this year, but she said they plan to return to the town next year.

Claudia Enrrigue said the food truck has grown in popularity and also caters larger parties and events around the region. They are especially busy with the food truck in the summer.

“Sometimes we cater for graduations and birthday parties,” Claudia Enrrigue said. “The biggest event was the Gaylord Extravaganza. That was a lot of people, almost the whole town.”

Jalisco’s Facebook page keeps customers updated on the business and available items, and they also get the word out through occasional newspaper ads. Each year they participate in summer parades in Winthrop and Gaylord, throwing out candy to the kids.

This spring, Claudia Enrrigue accepted an award from Mankato’s Small Business Development Center at a ceremony held at Minnesota State University. When Goretti Enrrigue was serving on the board of Gaylord’s Chamber of Commerce, a woman from the courthouse suggested they apply, a testament to the strong community support the family business receives.

“We were surprised, we never won anything,” Goretti Enrrigue said. “To come to a different country and be recognized for the work you’re doing; that’s amazing.”

For the future, expect an expanded kitchen and menu at the store itself. In the meantime, the food truck and market continue to cater all of those ingredients and food options you can’t find at a conventional grocery store.

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