"John Cardona owns a grocery store on the East Side of Manchester called El Parcero. It’s Cardona’s nickname, but in Colombia, where he was born, it also means “friend.”
The neighborhood surrounding the store is home to a lot of people dealing with poverty and food insecurity. But despite those challenges, Cardona has found success there. That’s in part because he’s provided a lifeline to the community’s large Latino population: offering hard-to-find ingredients that help them preserve their culinary heritage.
“Because of a coincidence, I found this is my place,” he said. “God put this in my path.”
Five months ago, Cardona said he was walking in the neighborhood and saw a store on sale. A divine force, he said, told him that was the opportunity he had been looking for 12 years.
Today, the shelves inside are stocked with a variety of specialty ethnic products. He offers ingredients like chipilín, flor de loroco, panela and hojas de maxán, which are used in many dishes from Central America, like pupusas, tamales, and desserts."