Carniceria Loa #1
Salvador & Monica Loa, Founders/Owners
Though today you can find Carnicerias Loa all throughout the Chattanooga and North Georgia area, the history of these stores began with an empty plaza unit in Dalton in the mid-90s. Salvador Loa had recently moved from Illinois to Dalton with the goal of owning a home and starting his own business, and he was introduced to Bill Glascock, who gave him a real estate opportunity that would change his life. Glascock proposed that Loa open his own grocery store in the aforementioned empty unit and said to him, “If you make it, pay me rent. If you don’t make it, you don’t pay me rent.” Intrigued, Loa briefly returned to Illinois to learn the ropes from a local grocery store owner, and upon coming home to Dalton, he got to work.
Carniceria Loa #1 opened in July of 1996 as the first Hispanic meat market in the Dalton area. The store offers a variety of items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dry goods and spices, canned goods and sauces, dishware, prayer candles, and more, but what truly sets the store apart is its meat selection. The heart of the store since its beginning, the butcher counter offers a wide variety of quality cuts of beef and pork, pre-seasoned, ready-to-cook meats, and a range of poultry and fish. “My first butcher, Rodolfo Hernandez, was a big help because he had been a butcher in Mexico,” says Loa. “The two of us processed and prepared the beef and pork, and we cooked carnitas for hours. Sometimes we even slept in the store because we had to stay all night to watch them.”
Carniceria Loa #1 has been open for over 25 years, and Loa and his wife Monica have enjoyed watching a community grow around it. There are now several Carnicerias throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina, and at location #1, the Loas have kept not only loyal employees over the years, but loyal customers as well. “We have gotten to know a lot of families who have been loyal since day one,” says Monica. “Some of their children are now adults, and they continue as our loyal customers too.”
Salvador, too, is grateful. “I am so thankful for my wife and her support, as well as God and the United States for giving anyone the opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” he tells us.