Espinoza Family

David and Olga Espinoza, 2000
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.88

David Espinoza was born in 1938 in Glendale, Arizona to Carmen and Gerardo Espinoza. Prior to his birth, the Espinoza family lived in the Sal Si Puedes barrio near Price and Guadalupe Roads. A farm worker family of eleven children, they eventually settled in Glendale. David remembers that as soon as school was over, they would pack their belongings and head to California to work in the fields. He recalls, “We were traveling during the migration of all the Okies, and gypsies galore, and when it got dark on the road, we would pull over on the highway, and just threw our blankets on the ground and went to bed. And those gypsies, they were loud! They would build big bonfires, they played their accordions and danced, like nobody’s business.”

At the age of 15, David decided to get out of fieldwork and began working at the Glendale Bashas grocery store.  He began working full-time in the stock room, and quit high school. David met Olga Lara in Tolleson, and they married in 1957.  He worked at several other supermarkets in Phoenix until 1965, when he moved to a position at the Wingfoot Market (on east Chandler Boulevard). Many people from Williams Air Force Base patronized the store, and business from the Base really helped the city’s economy. The Espinoza family, including the children Cindy, David, Larry, Leon and Gail, moved into Chandler. The family has lived near downtown Chandler ever since.

Espinoza’s Market in Hightown
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.91

In 1967, David leased the old Estrella Market in Hightown from Ray Estrella for $300 a month, having learned about its sale from his daughter, Mona. He changed the name of the store to “Espinoza’s Market.” He expanded the store and sold meat, produce, liquor, clothing, automobile parts, and a number of other items to local residents. Many of his customers were local Mexican farm laborers. David often sent and received mail for these men. American Indians from nearby reservations often purchased buckets, wash tubs, irrigating boots, and washboards from the store, and David extended credit to them. The store also specialized in homemade chorizo, which many customers loved. Families from Hightown came to the store, as well as local farmers, and sheepherders.

David opened “Espo’s Restaurant” in 1974. He recalls, “I was selling a lot of food there at the old store…. At that time the Stewards Sandwiches was still in business, and I would sell a lot of sandwiches and hot tamales. I thought, why don’t I do a restaurant?”  At first, he planned to sell a few items, but then expanded his menu: “People began asking me for more and more combination plates of all kinds, and so the girls had to go back there and make them. We had to keep putting it in the menu. And the menu grew from 5 or 6 items to where it is now.” The restaurant received a lot of business because it was the only one in West Chandler for many years.

In 1979, David decided to build his own store after the Estrella family sold the property on which the original store stood. He bought the property next to Espo’s Restaurant, and constructed Espinoza’s Food Center. David stopped working at the restaurant and store in 2003, after health problems and the death of his wife, Olga, but his family continues to operate the businesses. Today “Espinoza’s Market” has become a “convenience store,” since so many other stores have opened in the area. The Espinoza Food Center and Espo’s Restaurant are two important landmarks in Hightown and in Chandler.