Northgate Market: An Anaheim immigrant family built an empire from a corner store

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Northgate Market: An Anaheim immigrant family built an empire from a corner store
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Northgate Gonzalez Markets grew from a modest liquor store in the Northgate section of Anaheim to a family-run supermarket empire with 41 Southland stores.

LA HABRA, Calif. (KABC) -- Gleaming displays in a modern La Habra supermarket offer no hint of the store's humble beginnings.

The descendants of the store's founders say that family values gave birth to a small empire.

"The family was so united. I think that was the main reason we were so successful," says Miguel Gonzalez, co-president of Northgate Gonzalez Markets.

The vision was a work situation where the family could all be together. They have had that now for generations.

"We spend a lot of time together, the 13 brothers and sisters, the 53 grandchildren plus their children. And all of this is because our grandfather and grandmother taught us what unity and love was," says grandson and company director Joshua Gonzalez.

From the fields of agave in Jalisco, Mexico grandfather Don Miguel and his 13 children came north to Orange County. As laborers, they pooled their money.

With their last dollar and a dream they bought a liquor store in the Northgate section of Anaheim. It was Dona Teresa who said that what neighbors really needed there was groceries.

"And we said we don't know anything about groceries. We'd never run a grocery store," says eldest son Miguel.

What they did know was how to work hard and spend wisely. They poured their earnings into buying another store. Then another.

After 40 years, they have 41 stores in the Southland. Behind each one there is a mission beyond food for the table. The Gonzalezes knew from their own experience that families needed more. Providing that support became a cornerstone of the business.

"One is the area of education, the area of well-being or health, and the third one is faith," says the youngest of the 13 children, Oscar Gonzalez, who is also the company's co-president.

Northgate Gonzalez markets have given away $1 million in scholarships, sponsored health screenings and donated food to churches of all faiths.

About the name Northgate: The family kept it from the original store. But also north from Mexico was their opportunity. Gate represented the opening to make a difference.

"That gave us the chance to really fulfill our dreams," says Miguel.