1968- At age 16, Daniel Rubalcava came to the United States from Mexico. He was the youngest of five siblings from a small ranch called La Estancia near Yahualica, Jalisco.
As a young Mexican Immigrant, he began working as a dishwasher at Mr. Stox in Anaheim (a well-known high end restaurant). His work ethic and his ability to learn quickly allowed him to expeditiously rise in the ranks. At a very young age, the owners trusted him with full access to the restaurant (including their wine cellar that had bottles worth in the thousands of dollars). He was eventually given the responsibility to place large food orders for the restaurant. In addition, Daniel cooked alongside Michelin star chefs that were brought in from all around the world. He served many famous people while at Mr. Stox, including President Ronald Reagan.
Mr Stox: 1968-79
El Rancho Grande: 1979-80
Late into 1979 (the same year he married Amalia Rubalcava), he decided to open his own restaurant. He named it El Rancho Grande. Daniel and Amalia worked tirelessly to make this venture work but the sales never came. Daniel learned a valuable lesson in business after being open just one year…location is very important.
Mr Stox: 1980-82
He returned to Mr. Stox for two years to recover financially from the money he lost in opening and shutting his restaurant. Amalia helped out by working at the Van Doren Rubber Co. in Anaheim making Vans. At this point, he knew he had to go into business for himself eventually. His oldest brothers, Salvador and Juan, were business owners and they helped him find his business…a small grocery store in Anaheim. He left Mr. Stox again on good terms.
1982: Carniceria La Reina De Mexico Market
He bought a grocery store with a meat counter and the previous owners called it Carniceria La Reina De Mexico. Which translates to “The Queen of Mexico” meat or butcher shop. The Queen of Mexico is a tribute to the Virgin Mary, which is the patron saint of Mexico and very much a cultural icon. He decided to keep the name and took over the business in April 1982.
1983: Help Brother!
Opening and closing the store was taking a toll on Daniel. His older brother Refugio was working at an upholstery shop when Daniel approached him for help. They both had young families and saw promise in this little market. Daniel and Refugio became partners and they split their time evenly at the store so they had time to be with their families. Late this year, their sister Angelita joined the Market as a manager.
One of the spots in the retail center two doors down was for lease. Daniel and Refugio thought it would be a good idea to build a small tortilleria. Customers loved the freshly made masa for their tamales. La Reina Markets is one of the few remaining in-store tortillerias that makes tortillas the old-fashioned way. They don’t use corn powder. They stone grind real natural corn.
The Rubalcava brothers saw another opportunity to grow their business. The small restaurant that was between their Tortilleria and Market closed. They opened a Panaderia in that space to compliment the other offerings. That same year they gambled a bit and negotiated with the owners to purchase the building, the land, and leases of the shopping center where their businesses were located.
1992: The Rubalcaba’s Shopping Center and La Reina Markets were remodeled. The Carniceria, Tortilleria, and Panaderia now were joined to form one market. The new façade received rave reviews from the community. The City of Anaheim presented Rubalcaba’s Shopping Center with an “Anaheim Beautiful Award.”
1996: La Reina Markets
Daniel found a location for a second store in the City of Orange. He decided to shorten the name to La Reina Markets.
1997: La Reina Markets in Orange opens on March 7, 1997. This market went through similar additions as the Anaheim store. It started as a Carniceria and in 1998 added the Panaderia and Tortilleria.
2000: The second generation begins working at the markets.
2002: The Orange store expanded to include a taqueria and flour tortilla production.
2007: La Reina Markets celebrates 25 years in business.
2014: The Anaheim store expands to also include a taqueria. Both stores now offer taco cart services for private parties and events.
2015: La Reina Markets loses one of its leaders to retirement. Refugio retires from the business to spend more time with his family.
2017: La Reina Markets will celebrate 35 years in business and the Orange store will reach the 20 year milestone in that community.
Today, La Reina Markets thrives in this competitive Southern California grocery landscape because it has great employees who continue the tradition of offering its customers uncompromising quality, taste, and a family atmosphere