Rico Brand, owned by Jorge Fierro, is the quintessential immigrant success story. Originally from Mexico, Fierro arrived in Salt Lake City penniless in 1985. Thoroughly unimpressed with the Mexican food offerings at his local grocery store, Fierro began selling pinto beans at the Salt Lake Farmers Market in the late ’90s. Since then, Rico has expanded into a warehouse with more than 30 employees, selling everything from tamales to salsa at local supermarkets. Fierro has also been a tireless community advocate—he raises money for charitable causes, caters community events for free and serves on small business advisory boards including the Burrito Project, which provides burritos for people experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake.

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. After 18 years as a staple in the Granary District, new ownership threatened to evict Fierro from his plant, inspiring public outcry and media attention. (On our website, Mary wrote, “Salt Lake City is selling its soul.”) Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove, and, thanks to pandemic-led grocery sales, Fierro now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.”

945 W. Folsom Ave, SLC
801-433-9923

Each year, Salt Lake Magazine editors honor growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs with the Blue Plate Awards. A Blue Plate Award is given to an establishment or an individual who has done more than put good food on the table. They’ve created culture, made acts of kindness and education and are paragons of service that goes beyond. To see the full list of winners, click here.