Salvador Avila, the founder of the Southern California El Ranchito restaurant chain and immigrant entrepreneur who began his life in the United States as a construction worker before leading the successful chain, has died at 99, his family said in a statement.
Avila died of natural causes July 28, 2022, at his Corona del Mar home, the family said.
Avila and his family founded the first El Ranchito restaurant in Huntington Park before the popular spot went on to become a chain of 13 locations, with 12 in Orange County.
In 1966, after spending eight years in the United States sometimes working two jobs including as a construction worker, he established the first restaurant that would go on to become a family empire in Southern California.
“Like so many immigrant entrepreneurs, Salvador Avila believed in the American dream and he was determined to find a way to create a meaningful future for his family,” the family said in a statement.
Avila started the restaurant with just $2,000 and “Mamá Avila’s delicious family recipes from Guanajuato, Mexico.”
The subsequent locations were all family run, with three generations of Avilas running the 13 restaurants.
Even after his success with the restaurant, Avila continued to crave more out of life. He began running at age 50. When he turned 75, he ran his first LA Marathon, and ran every one until he turned 81.
“His wise counsel was often spoken in parables. His meaningful life lessons directed his children, family and friends to reflect on their lives and hearts. He ingrained in his children the value of their Mexican heritage and to never forget where they came from,” the statement said.
The matriarch of the family and Salvador’s wife, Margarita Avila, died in 2019 at the age of 93.
He is survived by his six children — six children: José Luis, Salvador, Victor, Sergio, María Elena, and Margarita — 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.