The root of El Mandado goes back to 1989, when fellow students in Ana Roldan’s English-as-a-Second-Language class complained they could not find Latin American food in the Triangle. Therefore, Ana and her husband Marco Roldan bought $200 worth of corn tortillas, corn flour and Mexican cheese from a wholesaler; they went to a Cary trailer park where they thought many Latinos lived, and started knocking on doors. They sold out within two hours.
Each week they filled their sputtering Ford Maverick with more and more products, and soon they had to buy two vans to fulfill the demand that was rapidly increasing along with the Triangle’s latino population.
The venture had started as a way to supplement Ana Roldan’s income as a maid and Marco Roldan’s jobs as an airport ramp clerk and a counselor for Spanish-speaking callers to an AIDS hot line, but the business became so time-consuming and successful that, in 1994, they opened a 700 square-foot store on Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh named El Mandado. The store eventually tripled in size, and the Roldans added a restaurant, but their sales were increasing 200 percent each year, Marco Roldan said. They needed even more space.
Instead of simply opening up a larger version of the first store, they decided to create the Triangle’s first Latino superstore.
Today, El Mandado is about more than just food. It’s a community gathering point, where friends can meet to eat lunch, send money transfers, buy clothes, christian books, cell phones, party supplies, get legal services and more.
Visit us today, and find a variety of ethnic products from Mexico, Central America, South America, The Caribbean and Africa.
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