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Northgate González Markets: Three Generations and Counting

When Edgar González stepped up to the microphone to accept the Business Journal’s Longevity Award at the Family-Owned Business Awards on May 30, held at the Irvine Marriott, the audience laughed as he said he was “volun-told” to accept the honor on behalf of his family, the founders of Northgate González Markets.

He is a third-generation member of the González family, which started their Mexican grocery chain in 1980 in Anaheim. Born in Jalisco, Mexico and later immigrating to California, his grandfather Don Miguel González Jiménez and his uncle Miguel González Reynoso, provided the funds to purchase a small liquor store in the city.

The remainder of the family provided “sweat” equity to convert the store into the first Northgate market. The younger González said that the store was already named “Northgate” and at the time, the family couldn’t afford to change it.

Now with 44 grocery store locations across Southern California, Northgate Markets is one of the largest Hispanic grocers in the U.S. generating around $1 billion in annual sales.

“Our story is not about one person. It’s about collaboration and sticking and working together, really valuing the ‘we’ versus the ‘I,’” Co-Chief Executive Oscar González told the Business Journal.

“Family first, then business,” co-CEO Miguel González said.

Multigenerational Family

The Anaheim-based company currently has 7,500 total employees and has 30 family members involved in its operations. Edgar González was joined by his fellow relatives Manuel González, Teresa Anaya and Osvaldo González at the Business Journal event that held about 300 attendees.

In the beginning, many of the González siblings left their jobs to help the first market following their family’s dream to start a new business, according to Oscar González. He is the youngest of the founder’s 13 children, who all now co-own the company.

His brother who helped their father acquire the first store, Miguel, is the third eldest of the siblings.

“Our products were resonating with the immigrant community that was established in Anaheim,” Oscar said. “It was seen as a safe haven [and] matched what they had left behind.”

The family has also used the company’s influence to donate to local schools and community sports teams. Recently, Estela González de Ortiz of the González Reynoso Family Foundation was included in the Business Journal’s OC50 executive roundup for Northgate’s philanthropic funding (see the May 27 print edition of the Business Journal).

Northgate has several programs such as Viva La Salud which supports local health initiatives and ¡Más Fresco! which provides incentives to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables. The company also supports local food banks and health clinics.

Oscar said that he and his siblings have met almost every week for over 35 years for lunch to stay united to keep growing as a multigenerational company.

For him and his brother, a big piece in securing Northgate’s place in the future is through authenticity.

The youngest González said the company has to be the best in the market in providing Mexican food. Miguel noted that with the growing popularity of Mexican cuisine, it is important for Northgate to keep things as close to home as possible.

“If we keep that focus on the authentic, we’re going to have business for another 50 years easily,” Miguel González said.

Shout-Outs

What has most recently brought much attention to the González family, and a jump in business, is the new Mercado González location in Costa Mesa.

The marketplace opened last November taking over a former Albertsons space that spans roughly 70,000 square feet, its largest store to date.

The expansive marketplace and food hall sits at the northeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Wilson Street. It features a collection of 20 vendors serving Mexican dishes, such as menudo, tamales and birria, and specialty Mexican products alongside traditional grocery offerings.

Miguel said he first had an idea for a mercado back in the first few years of opening Northgate Markets—there was a lot in Anaheim that had room for a larger marketplace concept, “the Disneyland of Food,” he reminisced. Unable to build the concept out at the time, Northgate now plans to use the marketplace concept to grow its footprint further in California and possibly other states.

The Mercado was a result of constant innovation and making sure each store is an improvement from the one before, González added.

“If we open another one, it has to be a little different,” he said. “We want to add something to the Mexican culture in the U.S.”

Orange County locals are not the only ones who have gravitated to the city’s new shopping and dining spot—many OC executives appear to also hold the new store concept in high regard.

Ron Salisbury, owner of El Cholo restaurants and the keynote speaker of the Family-Owned Business Awards event, shared his admiration for Northgate and said he had visited the Mercado three times already with plans to return soon.

During the event, fellow award winner Shaheen Sadeghi of LAB Holding LLC (see story, page 7) spoke of the other nominees while shouting out Northgate right before they won.

“The González family, whom we’ve gotten to know, do a phenomenal job so I’m truly, truly honored,” he said.

Store One

Northgate’s first Anaheim location will continue to be a place for dreams and innovation—the space is currently being renovated into a center for culinary entrepreneurship and workforce training called Store One.

It is being developed by the city of Anaheim in a model public-private partnership with the Anaheim Community Foundation.

The center is aiming to open in late 2025.

Several of the González family members volunteer on the advisory committee and strategic taskforce.

Store One aims “to support food business startups and build the local food business workforce, while also providing a place for the community to gather and access related services,” according to its website.

It’s still in progress, Oscar noted. Community-minded business leaders are also involved he said, such as the Samueli family, owners of the Anaheim Ducks.

Northgate’s Family Matters

The following are comments from family members working at Northgate González:

“Talk to me if you don’t believe in the American Dream. The American Dream is one of success, homeownership, college education for your children, and a secure job to provide these and other goals.” —Co-Chief Executive Don Miguel González Reynoso

“It is truly a blessing to have the gift of working with family, united by a common purpose. The strength and support we find in each other drive us to achieve our goals and serve our community with passion and dedication. This shared journey is not just about business; it’s about family, faith, and pursuing our dreams together.” —General Manager, Mercado & Business Development Joshua González

“Our associates are our family. Together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. We are the Northgate Family!” —Director, Sales, Promotions, and Customer Marketing Teresa Anaya

“Our strength lies in our Northgate family. We firmly believe that the family that prays together stays together. This unity and shared faith empower us to overcome challenges and achieve our goals, always moving forward with love and dedication.”
—CIMA Program Participant, Retail Operations Karina Bolanos

“Forty-four years ago, I was blessed to embark on an incredible journey, working alongside a hardworking family—a rare and treasured opportunity. They say the only thing tougher than running a business is working at a business alongside your family, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” —Real Estate Leasing Manager Alicia Valadez

“This award is a significant milestone in our journey, reflecting our commitment with serving our community to our values of faith, education, and well-being. We are dedicated to becoming a 100-year family company. Thank you for recognizing our efforts and supporting family-owned businesses.” —Co-Chief Executive Oscar González

 

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