The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the world economy, but the service industries, food production and sales, as well as hotel businesses that traditionally employ Latinos in significant numbers have been especially hard hit. Blanca Romo Garcia, whose company dates back to the Great Depression era, has been working hard to be sure their employees will not be in the unemployed lines anytime soon.
Romo Garcia’s family has owned and operated the Porter Poultry Egg business since 1936. With the closure of restaurants and family-owned Mexican bakeries across the city of San Antonio, Porter faced a financial dilemma. Seeing the dwilding sales and a drop in the demand for wholesale food products in mid-March, Romo Garcia decided to shift gears. Since that time she has been doing business differently at the same time committing to keeping her 21 employees on the payroll while maintaining financial stability.
Romo Garcia is one of those rare third generation owners of a small family business. Her grandfather, Benito Romo, founded Porter Poultry in 1936. She learned the business from her dad, Benito Romo II (full disclosure, my uncle), whom she calls her mentor, instructor, and great friend. Today, Romo Garcia operates the business assisted by her daughter Gemma.
Porter Poultry has deep roots in the Westside of San Antonio, dating back more than 70 years. The family- owned business is located on Highway 90 near Wolff Stadium. For the first fifty years of operations, Porter Poultry sold mostly eggs, chickens, and turkey products. Since taking the reins of the business 25 years ago, Romo Garcia expanded her inventory and now sells more than a thousand different items to customers, the majority of whom had small family restaurants and bakery businesses. Poultry’s large customers included several taquerias that operated in multiple locations of San Antonio.
When the pandemic hit San Antonio in mid-March, the majority of her restaurant customers stopped calling. The orders for eggs and chicken products, her main staples of sales, dwindled significantly.
Romo Garcia told her friends in the Westside of the city that the Porter Poultry would sell their products at wholesale prices and that their operations would shift to drive thru curb service. In a span of a few days, more than a thousand customers flocked to Porter, causing a traffic jam and requiring six Bexar County Constables to redirect cars to park at a local stadium as they waited to be served.
Today Porter Poultry workers are busy, and all twenty-one of her longtime employees remain on the job. In just two weeks in March, Porter Poultry sold more than ten large truckloads of eggs. The expansion of the products they offer is also one of the key reasons they are successfully operating their business during these difficult times. But Porter Poultry’s success is also a result of deep roots in a community where friendships and associations with thousands of customers matter.
- Blanca Garcia photo
- Garcia recognized by Veterans
- Photo of Benito Romo, [center] Jr. Blanca’s dad.
- Founding years of Porter Poultry 1930s
- Founder Benito Romo sr. left. Next to Benito Romo, Jr. 2nd from left.