ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The “Esta Bueno,” saying in Spanish culture not only signifies that something’s good or going alright but for the Baca family in Albuquerque, it’s been “Bueno” for 70 years.
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“In the late 1940s my dad and his brothers came back from WWII and they couldn’t find a job in post-war Albuquerque, even though they had been educated in the GI Bill. So they actually started a grocery store called the Ace Food Store,” Ana Baca, the Vice President of Marketing for Bueno, said.
Realizing they couldn’t compete with big grocery stores moving in, the Baca brothers, Joe, Ray, and Augustine, took their mother Filomena’s recipes for tamales and burritos along with finding a way to freeze green chile, and Bueno Foods was born.
“We were actually the first to commercialize tortillas on the retail shelf in New Mexico. All of those products have actually been since the beginning, chile, tortillas, and tamales since the very beginning and now we have over 150 products,” Baca said.
From Texas to California, Baca says the company’s latest expansion will increase their freezer capability. This will allow them to store more green chile and spread to other grocery stores throughout the southwest.
The path for the Baca brothers wasn’t direct and did not happen overnight without dealing with racism along the way. “Their father had always wanted to start his own business and to be in charge of his own destiny. And so for them, it was really important, let’s make jobs for ourselves and let’s make jobs for our community so that all the while celebrating their Hispanic culinary traditions,” Baca said.
From three brothers with a dream to a team of 400 workers during their peak season, the Baca family is still showing how green chile and a magic recipe for good foods can be successful after all these years.