De Leon Foods | Spokane, Washington

Summary: 
A tour of the flagship De Leon Foods location - a family owned Mexican grocery store with a bakery, a deli, and a restaurant in Spokane, WA.
Description: 

De Leon Foods - Grocery Store and Restaurant
102 E. Francis Ave., Spokane WA 99208

De Leon Foods - Grocery Store and Restaurant 
15530 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley 99037
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De Leon's Taco and Bar (#1)
10208 N. Division St. STE #110, Spokane, WA 99218

De Leon's Taco and Bar (#2)
1801 N. Hamilton ST. Spokane, WA 99207

De Leon's Taco and Bar (#3) 
2718 E. 57th Ave. STE #105, Spokane, WA 99223

Cultural Narrative: 

Husband and wife business team Sergio and Mayra De Leon own De Leon Foods in Spokane, Washington. This growing business enterprise has two fully loaded Hispanic grocery stores with bakeries, delis, and restaurants, and a tortilla factory in the Spokane Valley location. In addition there are three Taco and Bar locations as well as a catering service. My Historypin tour focuses on the history of the owners and their flagship grocery store and restaurant location on 102 E. Francis Ave. Spokane, WA 99208. 

 As a business, the De Leon's do a lot of outreach to support the local community. They work with local farms whenever possible to bring in local, fresh foods. Sergio worked on farms across the south when his family first moved to the United States so he has a specific appreciation for what it means to support local farms. For the holidays, they donate unsold turkeys and other foods to local homeless shelters and food banks. They raise money to offer scholarships for students and they work with local organizations like the Latino Hope Foundation and the Hispanic Business Professionals Association. Their first store opened in 2005, and since then they have opened another store, three taco and bar locations, and operate a tortilla factory.

Mayra and Sergio De Leon own and operate De Leon Foods. Sergio was born in Tampico, Mexico and moved to Texas when he was seven with his family. Mayra grew up in Zacatecas, Mexico and moved to Spokane, WA in her mid-20s to join her brother. For this tour, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. De Leon. In the 1990s, Mayra and Sergio were working in a warehouse business and the idea for a different business was Mayra's. She was tired of waking up at 2am to go to work at 3am doing work that she was not very passionate about. What she really wanted was to be part of the food industry and offer an experience in Spokane similar to the setup that Sergio's parents have in Portland, Oregon with Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon. Originally, when Mayra and Sergio approached friends with the idea of opening a Hispanic grocery store and restaurant, they were met with pessimistic responses. And when they approached area banks with the idea to apply for business loans, they were met with a similar response as the Hispanic community in Spokane was small in the mid-2000s. This negativity did not detour the couple from realizing their dream. While there were Mexican restaurants on what felt like every corner, there was not yet a local grocery store where ingredients for Mexican or Latin American cuisine could be purchased. If a special ingredient or band of item was needed, the local Spokanite would have to drive south two hours to the Tri-Cities in order to find these delicious and nostalgic foods and materials. Sergio explained that the original idea for the store had always included these many moving parts (bakery, deli, restaurant, and tortilla factory) because they wanted to provide a little bit of everything, and importantly, provide something for everyone. As such, ingredients for a variety of Latin American cuisines can be located in De Leon Foods - Mexican, Nicaraguan, or Puerto Rican cuisines - you can find it here. Sergio says that they try to fill special requests for specific items when it is possible.

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