Super Gil Gourmet Reminds Customers of Trader Joe’s
Personality of the month
By Robin Loving Rowland
The remarkable little tienda that used to be called Abarrotes Gil, at the corner of Antonio Plaza and Julian Carrillo in Colonia Guadalupe, recently expanded and remodeled, and its customers are saying it reminds them of Trader Joe’s in the US. Now it is called Super Gil Gourmet, but there is no sign. People from all over San Miguel hear about this through word of mouth, and they come.
Why? Our friends from Atascadero come for the prices. The most high-falutin’ chefs order from there because Gil can source exotic ingredients. “We aim to amaze,” says owner Gil Prado Rangel, who at 41 is in his 16th year at this location, which began as a mango snack stand he opened with his mother after returning from seminary, where he found that was not his vocation.
And amaze he does. A client walks in looking for crinkle-cut frozen French fries, and although there is not a freezer in sight, all Gil asks is, “How many kilos?” Another client asks for cal, the lime construction material. No problem. Another asks for an aloe vera leaf. Gil runs upstairs and cuts one from his personal plant. Personally, I like knowing that two blocks down I can get caviar. In a colonia!
But wait, there’s more—including an entire bread section with artisanal breads, at least 10 types of gourmet coffee, beautiful fruits and vegetables (some of which are organic), about 30 kinds of gourmet cheeses, bulk items in cute burlap bags, any number of spices, and he takes Master Charge and Visa. Can’t speak Spanish? No problem: ask for Mari, the cashier, who speaks English.
What’s the toughest thing about the business? “Keeping the restaurants happy,” replied Gil, “because they want what they want when they want it, of course. But, no problem.” And to what does he owe his success? “My 10 employees,” commented Gil, “because without them I couldn’t serve. I work to keep them happy so that they can keep our customers happy.”
And happy we are. A designer environment with things we couldn’t get even if we went to Costco, and all we have to do is ask and Gil will try to provide whatever we don’t see. Below the community bulletin board is a place to sit a spell, visit with neighbors, take a breather, and exchange pleasantries with friends from Centro, Allende, Aurora, and far-away communities.
I next asked Gil if he has competitors. “I don’t think so,” he said, for he is, although demure, in a class by himself. Confetti for your child’s party? You got it. In fact, there were at least 5,000 different types of items carried at Gil’s a few years ago. His estimate is that now there are 7,000.
And what does he think of the fact that Guadalupe has more than 90 expat women, not to mention the expat men? “Our expat community teaches us things,” said Gil, “like how to scoop the poop from the sidewalk when we are walking our dogs. That’s a great concept!”
Another reason so many locals, professionals, and expats shop at Gil’s are his hours: 8am-10pm Mondays through Saturdays, but he closes between 3:30 and 6:30pm Saturdays to keep the place clean. Then, he’s back Sunday from 8am to 2pm.
And then, there’s Gils’ community service. He has been supervisor to university students who needed to fulfill their community service requirements. More importantly, he provides home delivery if one is ill or disabled (but not otherwise). When we had Hospice across the street from Gil, he would take medical equipment to and from patients’ homes. Plus, his building has hosted four community murals.
Gil’s father was a merchant before him, and so I asked if Gil’s three elementary-aged children have aspirations in that direction. They are 8, 10, and 12, and the eldest is definitely showing signs of chef abilities.
Donald Trump can spew his nonsense about Mexicans, but I know that they are the hardest working people in the world, and those in San Miguel are the nicest and most compassionate. Gil represents the quintessential Mexican: smart, hardworking, self-effacing, service-oriented, kind, generous, helpful. Need I say more?
For more information, visit Gil or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone him at 154 9135. Abarrotes Gil, Julián Carrillo 2B, Col. Guadalupe.