Guy W. Farmer: Carson City immigrant success stories
Over the years I’ve written many columns in opposition to illegal immigration because I believe all immigrants should obey the laws of our country. I’ve written few columns, however, about the positive benefits of LEGAL immigration.
We have many immigrant success stories here in Carson City including Alberto’s Shoe Repair, the L.A. Bakery and several Chinese and Mexican restaurants, but today I’m going to tell the story of the Hacienda Market and Grill at 2270 Highway 50 East.
The Hacienda, which opened last August in a former oak furniture outlet building, is owned by Mexican immigrant (now an American citizen) Elsa Martinez Kinzie and her husband Neal. In a recent interview, Elsa, who was born in Guadalajara, told me she came to the U.S. as a teenager with “big dreams.” Her life changed when a Southern California couple she was working for invited her to accompany them on a vacation trip to Reno.
Elsa remained in Reno, where she worked in fast food restaurants, advancing steadily from kitchen helper to store manager. “Some day I’m going to have my own business,” the ambitious young woman told herself.
She moved to Carson in 1990 and opened “Video Centro,” a 1,000-square-foot video and grocery store on East Long Street. Five years later Elsa moved her store into a larger building on Highway 50 East, which she sold in 2006. After moving to Oregon, where she married businessman Neal Kinzie, she dreamed of returning to Carson to serve her loyal clientele with a larger, full-service market. They teamed up to open their spotlessly clean, upscale Hispanic market/grill last August. Open from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week, they now have 14,000 square feet of retail space and 27 employees.
“I love Carson City and I love serving people,” Elsa told me. Their business motto is “making people happy every day” as they offer a wide variety of authentic Hispanic food, groceries, meat and baked goods. I can happily recommend their fresh, tasty tacos and enchiladas — “muy sabrosos” (delicious).
I identify with Elsa and Neal because my late wife, Consuelo, grew up in Mexico with dreams of a better life. She studied English, graduated from secretarial school and became a bilingual secretary before obtaining a green card to work in the Mexican Government Tourist Office in Los Angeles. We met on the beach in Acapulco (yes, really) and married in Seattle a few years later. We moved to Carson in 1962 and she became an American citizen when I joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1967.
At age 11 Consuelo was child labor in a Mexico City textile factory and 20 years later she was hosting diplomatic cocktail parties on behalf of the United States. We moved back to Carson City when I retired in 1996 and enjoyed seven wonderful years together before she died much too soon of pancreatic cancer in 2003. That’s why I contribute to the Carson-Tahoe Cancer Center and the Ross Medical Clinic at FISH, where my wife volunteered for several years.
Her favorite niece, Griselda, will be visiting Carson in May and I’ll take her to the Ross Clinic to show her where her aunt made such a positive contribution to the local Spanish-speaking community. I love to tell Consuelo’s life story as a positive example of legal immigration.
Hacienda Market co-owners Elsa and Neal Kinzie were also able to realize their dreams here in Carson and I’m delighted to share their inspiring immigrant success story with you. Only in America.
Note to Alan Banfield: Thank you for reading my column.
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a retired diplomat who loves legal immigrants.