Hispanic Chain Plans Expansion After Sales Hit $250M

Not long ago it would have seemed inconceivable to Laura Martinez, a councilwoman here, that anyone would come to East Palo Alto to shop for food. Even Ms. Martinez and her family usually left town to do that.

For 23 years, there was no supermarket in this city of about 34,000 people, which has long struggled against poverty and crime. Residents bought groceries in small stores, often high-priced and poorly stocked, or they drove or took a bus three or four miles to Palo Alto, Mountain View or Menlo Park.

Then in November, a Mi Pueblo Food Center opened in a former Circuit City store on Highway 101. Its arrays of meat, produce and Latin American products immediately attracted not only the residents of this largely Hispanic city, but also of the Silicon Valley communities around it.

The weekend of the grand opening was a weekend of rejoicing, said Ms. Martinez, 25. People like my grandmother said, I cant believe this day is finally here.

One shopper there, Emi Zychlinsky, vice president of operations for a medical device company in Mountain View, said she rarely went to the Safeway in her Palo Alto neighborhood.

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