For 60 years, Sedano’s has served the needs of Miami’s Latino community
When people think of Miami, they often conjure up images of sunny beaches, tropical drinks, upbeat nightclubs, and, more than ever, a growing list of Latin-themed dishes.
Miami’s Hispanic culture continues to be the most defining element of this city. He was the inspiration behind a number of our country’s most beloved movies, TV shows and music videos. He spawned endless talent, from Gloria Estefan and Enrique Iglesias to Pitbull.
In recent decades, it has also become a driving force for innovation, making Miami ground zero for a number of Hispanic-owned and operated businesses, including Sedano’s Supermarkets, the Latin grocer, which has its roots in Miami-Dade County – and which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
Established by the Guerra and Herrán families, Sedano’s has become an indelible part of the fabric of Miami. And, as 2022 marks the start of the grocer’s seventh decade in business, it seems only fitting to tell the story of a company that has grown from humble bodega beginnings to status as a one of the largest independent Hispanic supermarket chains in America.
Today, Sedano stores are found throughout the state, with a total of 34 — and more than 3,000 employees — in Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange counties. But it all started with one store in Hialeah.
According to Javier Herrán, marketing manager at Sedano and a descendant of one of its founding families, the company was founded by Cuban emigrants Manuel Agustin Herrán and Armando Guerra, who bought the store from René Sedano in 1962.
Having immigrated to Miami from Cuba (and originally from Spain), the Herrán and Guerra families brought with them experience operating similar neighborhood stores. When the pair were offered the opportunity to purchase the already established supermarket off 41st Street, they quickly agreed.
Back then, the original Sedano’s resembled a neighborhood bodega, selling foods with familiar flavors to newly arrived immigrants. In addition to growing the business, the families’ goal was to create a shopping experience tailored to Miami’s Hispanic immigrants looking for affordable, nostalgic grocery items.
“Hialeah was a growing and prosperous city,” says Herrán. “At the time, the region was full of working-class families and factories. We knew it would be a great place to provide locals with a convenient place to buy the items they loved.
For many, a visit to Sedano is more than a trip to the grocery store. It’s also a way to keep their culture alive and close to their hearts by using ingredients that are familiar and sourced from their country of origin.
For longtime Sedano employee Pedro Mesa, the company’s director of community affairs, Sedano’s presents itself as a South Florida success story rooted in the grocer’s unique ability to respond to Latin culture.
While there may be plenty of supermarkets in the area, only a handful speak to Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Nicaraguans and Puerto Ricans like Sedano does, Mesa says. “A lot of employees and buyers arrive in Miami without knowing English, but at Sedano they can feel at home,” he adds.
To date, one of the most popular sections of the store is the “corte latino”, or meat section. Here, customers can request hard-to-find cuts of meat and have them hand-cut in front of them, depending on their preference.
There’s also the bakery, where you can find popular items like fresh Cuban bread and takeout dishes like Colombian-style empanadas. Very few people leave without stopping at the store’s cafeteria for a cafecito and a pastry.
Today, the website offers tips for cooking at home, sharing popular recipes for dishes like Peruvian Roast Chicken, Argentinian Choripan, Cuban BBQ Sauce or Nicaraguan Churrasco – all of which require ingredients that can easily be found at Sedano.
The Miami-based company also prides itself on having a loyal cast of employees — many like Mesa, who started working for Sedano while still in high school and is approaching four decades with the company. This is proof of Sedano’s continued dedication to the local community and its well-deserved reputation for giving back for over 20 years with its annual holiday food donations and new business development opportunities.
This includes Sedano’s Kitchen, which is part of the company’s sponsorship as an activation at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair held each spring. During the event, promising local food businesses had the chance to promote and sell their products to show attendees.
Last March, Sedano’s Kitchen picked Cuban hot sauce creator Mario Cruz’s Barbaro Mojo — and starting this month, customers can find the sauce at all Sedano stores.
“We are so grateful to our long-time employees and loyal customers for making Sedano part of their friends and family over the past 60 years,” summarizes Herrán. “We pride ourselves on being a cultural hub for our local community and take pride in offering our customers quality food at the best prices, while always keeping in mind the flavors of their home country and their culture.”