Joe Garcia has led a multifaceted life.Over the years, he’s been involved in everything from politics to publishing. But his true love is offering up Mexican food.
Garcia, 86, and his son, Joe Garcia III, own and operate Famous Joe’s Legendary Mexican Food in Whittier.
The 2,000-square-foot eatery at 15334 Whittier Blvd. opened its doors two years ago. And it’s been gaining traction with customers ever since.
“It’s coming along,” the elder
Garcia said. “We’re building up a good clientele now. My doctor, who practices in Pico Rivera, said we have the best Mexican food around.”
The restaurant offers everything from pollo asado and Famous Joe’s large burritos, to fish tacos and filete de pescado al mojo de ajo (fried fish fillet sauteed in garlic).
Garcia says there’s a distinct difference between authentic Mexican food and the Americanized version.
“The difference is in the flavor,” he said. “We use spices to get the flavor out so people will like the food. People who come in to eat say, ‘All I know is the food is good, and I’ll be coming back.”‘
Garcia III said the business has also made a point of giving back.
“It started with the Haiti earthquake,” he said. “You feel so bad and want to help, but it’s so far away. I don’t have a lot personally, but you can do a lot when you launch a community effort.”
The restaurant has donated a portion of its customer proceeds to the international committee of the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts, and it also helped out last month with donations to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund to raise money for breast cancer research.
But it didn’t end there.
“My dad is a World War II veteran, and some of our guys have come home needing a prosthetic arm or leg,” Garcia said.
The restaurant raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project on Memorial Day and Labor Day, and another fundraising event will be held Friday for Veterans Day.
The elder Garcia was born in El Paso, Texas. As a child, he worked with his father selling fresh products to local markets.
At the age of 18, he was drafted into World War II as a paratrooper. After the war, he became involved in politics, helping to elect some of the first Latino politicians in the Los Angeles area.
He ran Nelson Rockefeller’s campaign office in East Los Angeles when the candidate was running for president, and later launched a bilingual magazine that incorporated Latinos in politics, business, sports, entertainment and fashion.
The magazine was sold to a radio station. In the early 1970s, Garcia opened his first Mexican restaurant in Huntington Beach, followed by another in Castaic.
He also created El Rey Mexican Food Co., which sold Mexican food to area supermarkets.
In 1983, with the help of his wife and brother-in-law, he created Reynaldo’s Mexican Food. Reynaldo’s was and still is a big success, at one time employing 300 workers, with seven manufacturing facilities, warehouses in Denver, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and $26 million in annual sales.
For more information on Famous Joe’s Legendary Mexican Food,
call 562-943-0200 or visit the website: www.famousjoes.net.
626-962-8811, Ext. 2701
Published at http://www.pasadenastarnews.com