Northgate Market Follows its Shoppers to Riverside in Former Tyler Toys R Us
Northgate González Market, a Latino-themed supermarket chain with a growing Southern California footprint, will open a store in Riverside later this year, in part to catch up with a customer base that is relocating eastward.
This will be the grocery chain’s first location in the Inland Empire.
Northgate González has 40 stores in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. It will debut in Riverside in November in a former Toys R Us at 10391 Magnolia Ave.
The family-owned supermarket will feature fresh and prepared foods with full-size meat, bakery and tortilleria departments. It will eventually employ about 120 people, the company said.
The Riverside store, at about 42,000 square feet, will be similar in size to most of the full-service Northgates operating now, said Carl Middleton, the grocer’s senior vice president for real estate. He added that the location, close to a retail hub anchored by the Galleria at Tyler, makes it a solid opportunity for Northgate Gonzalez.
Middleton acknowledged in an interview that his company will not be the only player in the Latin American market in the region.
“There have been competitors in that trade area that we have respected for many years,” he said. “But finally, we couldn’t ignore it anymore. Many of our customers are relocating there and are well-represented in Riverside County. We were missing the boat.”
Inland Empire cities have several Latino market options, including Cardenas Markets, which has its corporate offices and distribution center in Ontario.
Middleton said calling his company and others like it a “Latino market” is a generalization that probably doesn’t work anymore. Today, he said, there is something of a cross-culture shift that has diverse groups, including the children of more traditional parents, shopping everywhere from Cardenas to Sprouts and Trader Joe’s.
Also, he added that many Southern Californians with no Latin American roots visit supermarkets such as Northgate. Few people in Southern California, Middleton said, “don’t like a good taco or carne asada.”
Northgate is looking at other possible locations in the Inland Empire, he added. If it happens, it will be a slow and cautious move, because not every community in the region is the same, he added.
Marco Robles, a spokesman for Cardenas, said there are enough potential customers in the region to accommodate another chain. There are 4.5 million people in the Inland Empire, he pointed out, and roughly half of Riverside County’s population identify as Latino.
“I’m sure the opportunity for business expansion for the Latino-themed market is quite large,” Robles said. “Northgate Gonzalez is very successful in other cities, and our understanding of the Inland Empire is much the same as theirs.”
The chain got its name, according to legend, when the Gonzalez family bought a small market, called the Northgate Market on Anaheim Boulevard in 1980. The family couldn’t afford to take the existing sign down, so it stayed and is still part of the chain’s name almost 40 years later.