Manuel Herrán, who co-founded Florida's Sedano's supermarket chain, has passed away from complications of diabetes. He was 83.
The Miami Herald offers a remembrance of this fundamentally American story:
"Manuel Agustin Herrán came to Miami as an immigrant from Cuba, giving generations of Cubans a taste of their long-lost country. But he was not Cuban.
"Herrán, the oldest of five children, was born in Arenal, Spain, in a town of 500 people, where his family lived in a wooden three-room, two-story house above the lowing milk cows they raised.
"His family fled a desperate Spanish economy in 1951 when Herrán was 14. He started working in a clothing store, where he met his wife of 56 years before their family had to flee again.
"They escaped Fidel Castro’s revolution to Atlanta but soon his young wife’s uncle asked him to come to Hialeah. Armando Guerra told Herrán he needed his help running a 4,000-square-foot bodega he had just bought from a man named Rene Sedano."
Herrán, the story says, "created a grocery store to reflect the tastes of the nearly half million Cuban immigrants who came to South Florida between Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959 and the early 1970s.
"Where Publixes and Winn-Dixies might have an aisle dedicated to 'ethnic foods,' Sedano’s entire store was focused on the Latino palate. Yucca and plantains imported from Latin America and the Caribbean in the produce section. Cumin, bay leaf and garlic in the spice aisle. Olive oil, the key ingredient in everything from mojo marinade to simple salads, shipped from Spain.
"For a community struggling — to adapt, to speak, to cook the flavors of home — Sedano’s made daily life easier.
"Publix claimed 'where shopping is a pleasure.' Sedano’s countered, 'el gusto es nuestro.'
"The pleasure is ours."