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The grocery store was honored by several dignitaries during its anniversary on Friday, Nov. 18.

COURTESY PHOTO: CENTRO CULTURAL - From left; Jonath Colon, deputy director for Centro Cultural, Beach Pace, Hillsboro councilor, Nansi Lopez, policy director for Centro Cultural, Vanessa Livingston, daughter of Isabell Mendoza (center), co-owner of Su Casa, Danalyza Rodriguez, daughter of Mendoza, Maria Caballero Rubio, executive director of Centro Cultural, and Robby Hammond, Hillsboro City Manager. Su Casa Imports, the market that's become a staple for Hillsboro's Latino population, celebrated 40 years in business on Friday, Nov. 18.

The event featured official recognition from the city of Hillsboro, the Mexican-American Consulate and Centro Cultural de Washington County, the Cornelius-based nonprofit that sponsored the event.

"To get this kind of recognition is really special to me," said Isabell Mendoza, who co-owns the store with her husband Rafael.

Their family store has occupied the same corner at Walnut Street and 10th Avenue in Hillsboro since 1982.

"All this creates a better me," she added, "because I just feel like what I'm doing is not just a job, it's not just work. I've made an effort and it's impacted somebody."

Su Casa Imports, which also has a branch on Stark Street in Portland, received recognition from a host of officials.

A representative from the Mexican-American Consulate gave Su Casa a certificate recognizing its achievements for the local economy, even saying that it was the first Mexican-owned grocery registered in the entire state.

Local politicians were also on-hand during the event, including Hillsboro City Councilor Beach Pace, who presented a proclamation from the city recognizing Su Casa's achievements, and Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González. COURTESY PHOTO: CENTRO CULTURAL - Beach Pace, Hillsboro councilor, presents a proclamation document from Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway to Su Casa co-owner Isabell Mendoza to recognize 40 years of business.

González said the recognition of economic achievement was especially important because Su Casa's success led to the creation of many more Hispanic-owned businesses.

"Su Casa was really a pretty significant importing arm for goods that helped feed the creation of more businesses throughout Washington County and throughout the state," he said.

The Mendoza family also received a certificate from the Hillsboro Police Department, and Mendoza said that one of the officers who spoke during the event was moved by seeing a picture of himself as a little boy shopping at the store compiled as part of a gallery put together for the event. COURTESY PHOTO: CENTRO CULTURAL - Dancers from the Ballet Folklórico provided entertainment during the celebration of Su Casa Imports on Friday, Nov. 18.

That's been the lasting influence of Su Casa Imports, Mendoza said. For generations, it's been a place where kids can find their favorite Mexican candies and do their back-to-school shopping.

It's where families can find authentic piñatas for parties, and specialty breads and spices to stock their larders for supper.

While it's not just a business for Mexicans or folks whose roots come from Spanish-speaking countries, Mendoza said she and her family always hoped that their business would become a gathering space for families who come from a Hispanic background. COURTESY PHOTO: CENTRO CULTURAL  - Su Casa Imports was the first Mexican-owned grocery store in Oregon, according to the Mexican-American Consulate, who provided the store owners with a certificate of recognition for their achievements.

"We wanted people to walk through the doors and hear their music and be greeted by someone in their language," Mendoza said.

She said that to receive this recognition is an affirmation of these goals — which is especially important for her as someone who began her career working for 17 years as a coordinator for client services at Community Action, a nonprofit that helps low-income families with rental and economic assistance.

During the first few years of Su Casa Imports' operation, Mendoza worked full-time at Community Action and would work nights and weekends at the grocery store. She said she always wanted to do work that was important, not just run a business. COURTESY PHOTO: CENTRO CULTURAL - Su Casa Imports has long been a place for Hillsboro residents to find authentic Mexican food, decorations and other imported items. The business celebrated 40 years on Friday, Nov. 18.

The event was capped with performances from Ballet Folklórico, and from local singers. There was also a car show from the Puro Locos Car Club, as well as a ribbon cutting for the store.

While ribbon cutting events are usually reserved for initial grand openings, Mendoza said this one was a recommitment to another 40 years of helping the community.

"That's where it goes back to the name," Mendoza said. "We wanted people to feel like they were at home. … I promise to serve my community in the same way I have in the past 40 years, because I've seen it that it is working."

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