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Greater Newark Community

María DeCastro Blake 
Community Service Award
2006 Honoree

Adilio González
Owner, La Conga Supermarket and La Conguita Restaurant

Adilio González was born in Lugareño-Camagüey, Cuba. In the early 1960s he left Cuba with his wife, Elidia González, and resided in Spain until 1968. Upon arriving in the United States, Adilio and his wife became parents to a son, Alex. Shortly after the birth of their son they established a restaurant/mini-market in downtown Jersey City, at the corner of Grove and Bay Streets. From those very humble beginnings Adilio started to help the Hispanic community in every way he could. Adilio believes in giving back to the community because he is so grateful for the way the community has supported him and his businesses throughout the years.

Adilio, a Jersey City merchant who parlayed a $4,000 loan into a two million dollar business credits his good fortune to the American Way. "I came to this country over thirty years ago with nothing," said González, whose supermarket, La Conga, grosses several million a year. "Now I have more than 20 employees, several upgraded stores,” he said. "This is a country of opportunity. America is my second home."

Adilio chose La Conga, a "bodeguita" or small grocery in downtown Jersey City for his first investment because the neighborhood was abandoned. Nobody was really showing any interest in turning that area around. "I said to myself, this area deserves something better," González recalled.

Although Spanish-speaking, González Cuban background makes him a minority in a community that was predominantly Puerto Rican and from other Caribbean nationalities. But discrimination was not a major stumbling block for Adilio. "Race has not been my problem," he said. "I’ve gotten a lot of help from my neighbors here and they’re not Cuban but Puerto Rican, Dominican and from other countries."

There were very few merchants, large of small, that were prospering on that small section of Grove near Bay when González took over his corner store. Adilio admitted he had received several offers to buy his store but had rejected them. "I’m not selling," he said firmly. "I’m staying here."

Besides the food store, Adilio’s firm, Grove and Bay Realty, manages close to 20 apartment units in the downtown area.

Training as an electrical technician and now a successful entrepreneur, Adilio has received recognition from governors, presidents and mayors alike for his great and ongoing contributions to the community at large.

Adilio will not let anyone go hungry, sleep in the streets, or suffer over not having the sufficient funds to bury a loved one. However, this generosity has not gone unnoticed. Among the many accolades received, one of his most treasured honors has been when the late Mayor Cunningham renamed the corner of Grove and Bay Streets "Adilio González Plaza." But in his humble world a hug, a "buenos días" and "gracias" is sufficient for Adilio.

Biographical statement courtesy of Noemí Velázquez


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