MILWAUKEE -- Brian Kramp spent the day at El Rey for National Taco Day! El Rey is an authentic Hispanic grocery store, family-owned and operated since 1978. El Rey takes pride in the authentic products they offer, but also the authentic experiences and service provided by El Rey employees.
History of El Rey (website)
Heriberto (1940) and Ernesto Villarreal (1948) were born in Mexico. It is hard to write about the life of either individually, as their lives and accomplishments are so intertwined. Beto came to the United States with his father, Octavio, in 1960. Octavio was able to move his wife and the other children, including Ernesto, to Milwaukee in 1964. Beto had finished his secondary and preparatory education in Mexico before coming to Wisconsin. Ernesto obtained his education here in the south side of Milwaukee at Vieu School and then Milwaukee Boys Technical School. Heriberto and Ernesto were brought up to work hard and they began working at Mercury Marine at a very early age. During this time their father, Octavio, owned and operated a small corner grocery store. The Hispanic population in Milwaukee grew rapidly in the 1960’s. Industry was booming and many Hispanic people had moved North seeking jobs and a better life for their families. The men often came here first and found work. As they got established here, they sent money back home for a time and then brought their families to Milwaukee as soon as they could afford to. Octavio’s store was a gathering for these new immigrants. They were so homesick but also grateful to be in the United States and have employment. Because of their father’s limited resources, it was hard to stock many grocery items that the Mexican immigrants were familiar with. Beto had started to work part time in another small grocery store that also tried to cater to the Mexican people.