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Salem Business Legacy: Liliana & Alfredo’s El Torito – Culture and Community in Salem

Written by Richelle Gamboa on Oct. 16th, 2023
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In the vibrant landscape of Salem’s businesses, El Torito Meat Market casts a long, inspirational shadow. A testament to the dedication and passion of its founders, Liliana Perez and Alfredo Mendez, the brand has grown to encompass multiple locations across Oregon. Salem, however, holds a special place, being home to their notable grocery stores on Lancaster Drive. More than just a business hub, Salem is now their cherished home.

“We’ve always been in the grocery business; it was both our first job. Throughout the years, we’ve learned so much and have always loved what we do,” Liliana reminisces. Their early roles, Liliana as a cashier and Alfredo as a butcher, laid the foundation for a dream they would build together. “Loving what we do has gotten us where we are now,” she adds.

Their entrepreneurial journey took root in McMinnville with Alfredo’s inaugural store. Upon their paths merging, a shared vision for Salem emerged. “When we met, we decided to start a location in Salem,” Liliana recalls, further emphasizing, “We wanted to bring our culture to the community and give our community a little taste of Mexico.”

Their road was dotted with challenges. “Being able to get loans was hard,” Alfredo candidly shares. Yet, their unwavering spirit saw them not just surmounting these obstacles but also enriching Salem’s cultural milieu.

El Torito Meat Market stands as more than just a business; it’s a community cornerstone. “Creating jobs for our community has been transformative, allowing other ethnicities to learn about our culture,” Liliana proudly states.

Their entrepreneurial reach extends beyond mere commerce. With open doors, they’ve nurtured spaces for fellow business minds and enabled meaningful dialogues with local elected officials, further cementing ties with Salem’s Latino community.

The heart of their venture beats with genuine joy. “Our businesses genuinely make us happy, and seeing our customers and employees thrive is what motivates us to keep growing,” reflects Alfredo. Their vision isn’t insular; it’s woven with dreams for the next generation. Liliana emphasizes, “We’re instilling in our children the myriad opportunities this country and our endeavors offer.”

Their enduring mantra resonates with simplicity and truth: “Work hard and love what you do.” Liliana and Alfredo’s tale is not just a Salem business legacy; it’s a story of dreams realized, cultures interwoven, and a community united in the very heart of a city they now proudly call home.

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