Latino Grocery Chain to Participate in E-Verify Program

Leaders say they felt "tremendous pressure" by immigration officials to participate


SAN JOSE — When customers enter Mi Pueblo Food Center to do their weekly shopping, the goal is to make them feel at home.

Each of the grocery chain's 21 outlets, which are scattered throughout the Bay Area, Monterey Bay region and Central Valley, is styled to emulate a distinct Mexican region. Boisterous rancheras stream from the stores' speakers. Vivid primary colors and architectural references cover the walls: the adobe church of San Juan Nuevo, Michoacan, in San Jose's flagship store; the Maya pyramid of Chichen Itza in the Salinas market.

Mi Pueblo's employees, all bilingual, wear name tags that list their hometowns.

It's a formula that helped turn the business founded more than two decades ago by an illegal immigrant from the town of Aguililla into a $300-million enterprise.