Paraiso Tropical, Many Voices, One Culture:
The story of Paraiso Tropical began during the 1980s when Jesus & Alba Gonzalez left El Salvador and immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta. Their story in not unique to Albertan history as thousands of Salvadorans fled their homeland amid political and civil unrest. What was unique about these pioneers within the Latin American community was their desire to bring a part of their culture to our city.
Coming from what is seen as a Tropical Paradise, Latin American’s were met with a culture shock, not least of which was caused by a void left by their local cuisines. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, traditional Latin American goods were nonexistent and so, Jesus and Alba, along with two other families open their doors to all Edmontonians in 1991.
Located a few blocks from Edmonton’s historical Chinatown, the original lists of imported goods included beans, corn flour, traditional goods that needed to be either frozen or stored in jars, along with typical music, movies, and magazines unique to Central America.
After six months in business, Jesus and Alba proudly took full ownership of the growing business and focused on nurturing their business. In the world of business, life was often demanding but with their strong work ethic and support of their two older children, the Gonzalez’s business grew. Within two years, Paraiso Tropical relocated to Alberta Avenue on 118th avenue and 87th street. During 1993-1997, demand for Latin American products grew. As a result of the new waves of Latin American immigration, the demand for Salvadoran goods grew, but so did products from all over Central American and Mexico.
As the business increased, so did the Gonzalez’s connections with the Latin American community as the store became a community among the owners and clients. Latin American immigrants had a location where they celebrated their culture, felt safe, and connected with others who shared a similar background. As individual connection developed within the store, a common theme ensued: it was not about being Salvadoran, Mexican, or from any other Latin American country, it was about proudly embracing a common culture among friends and family.
In 1997, the store was relocated to its current location on Alberta Avenue. Demand for product from all over Latin American created a need for more storage capacity and the new location allowed for this. With some renovations, including a full kitchen, Paraiso Tropical moved into ready-made foods and takeout – a popular option among its customers. As immigration from Latin American to Edmonton evolved, so did the demands for variety. Today, many traditional ingredients and foods from all over Latin America can be found within the family owned stored.
In the late 2000s, the youngest of the Gonzalez’s children – Jesus Jr. – took an active role within the family business. As a result of meeting the customers increased demands, innovative strategies and firmly nestled within Latin American traditions, Paraiso Tropical remains a central hub for both Edmontonians and Latin Americans.
The tremendous support from the local community is at the heart of Paraiso Tropical’s success. In an effort to provide services to all Edmontonians, the Gonzalez family is proud to announce its second location in Edmonton’s south side in 2015. Jesus Gonzalez Jr, now President of Paraiso Tropical says:
“My Goal is to continue expanding our product line and provide a place where our customers, both Latino and non can experience and find unique foods and products reminiscent of Latin America."
"My parents have been hard working parents throughout these past 23 or so years. Growing up with the business as young kids, it wasn't always easy to have busy parents always working. I laugh to think that many times as kids we would hate to spend our days to help our parents at work. But you look back in retrospect and realize how blessed we are to get the point where we are now. You learn the value of hard work, how fortunate and grateful we are of the ongoing support we receive from the community on a daily basis. I hope to keep that spirit alive and to continue providing and improving our service to our new and loyal customers."
Latin Food Market
Paraiso Tropical Ltd. (English meaning - Tropical Paradise) is a family owned and operated company. Founded in 1991, it was the first business established in western Canada created to provide imported food products from South & Central America.
We specialize in importing food products and many other goods from the Caribbean, Central & South America at both the retail and wholesale level. This ranges in everything from food products, candies, drinks, snacks, cookware, health and beauty, handcrafts and other gifts.
Our goal here at Paraiso Tropical is to provide our customers with a unique shopping experience reminiscent of Latin America! Whether you're a customer shopping for your traditional home-cooked meals or simply looking to try something new and unique, our friendly staff speak Spanish and English and are available to help find what you're looking for. You can also count on trying our traditional hot dishes from our take menu available everyday!
We hope you take the opportunity to visit us, experience and enjoy the taste of Latin America!
Jesus Gonzalez Jr