If you ask Dan Tresierras what it takes to make a family-owned Latino food market last 50 years in the mean streets of Pacoima, he'll tell you to start with a good mother.
"My mother was a real entrepreneur," said Tresierras, the eldest of three brothers who run the family's chain of Tresierras Brothers markets. "She used to make little ice cubes and sell them. She really wanted a store."
In 1944, Pilar Canchola Tresierras got her wish. Her husband, Frank Tresierras, opened his first market on Kalisher Street in San Fernando. After World War II, the family moved the market to Pacoima, where the three brothers--Dan, Richard and James--began working in the store as teen-agers, often 12 hours a day.
On Tuesday, the three brothers gathered at Market No. 2 on San Fernando Road in Pacoima to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their parents' endeavor. The enterprise has grown to four markets known from Newhall to Van Nuys for meat and produce catering to Latino tastes, from Cuban-style platanos (cooked plaintains) to Milanesa (thin-sliced Mexican-style steak).
The celebration drew the praise of local dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), who presented the brothers with a flag flown over the nation's capitol to honor the store's 50th anniversary.
Joel Rucker, president of the Pacoima Chamber of Commerce, said the market stands as a symbol to all Pacoima merchants. "It's such a constantly changing community," Rucker said. "This is a landmark achievement."
Although their parents died several years ago, Dan Tresierras said the three brothers have followed their parents' philosophy of cultural integration.
Mexican pinatas line the checkout stand, frozen french fries fill the freezer, and favorites on both side of the border, such as chicken fajitas, are sold by the butcher. About the only Mexican tradition every shopper experiences are the canciones, or Mexican songs, resonating from the market's speakers.
During the next 50 years, the Tresierras brothers are banking on a new generation, as more and more Central Americans integrate into the community surrounding their stores.
One new customer is Olvin Delgado, 22, of Sun Valley. Born and reared in Honduras, Delgado comes to Tresierras for the black beans he grew up on while his wife, Mexican-born Anna, shops for chorizo, Mexican sausage.
"There are some things here that you can't find at other stores," Delgado said. "And I don't mind the Mexican music."