AS TOLD BY LOLITA MEDINA
Mom-and-pop restaurants in Utah strive to stay affordable despite inflation
El Farol and I have a lot in common. We were born in the same year, in the same month and in the same family.
My grandparents had been in the restaurant business since about 1967. They owned one of the first Mexican restaurants in the valley. It was called El Charro and it was first located on 148 East and 200 South. It was a tiny place, but many frequented it and have fond memories of it.
My father Elias started helping out my grandfather around the time my family had moved here from California. In 1992 my father, Elias, decided to continue the El Farol legacy here across the street from the original location. My mother, Luz, did most of the heavy cooking, following my grandmother's original recipes and making a few additions of her own.
After many years of cooking the family recipes and working long hours, my husband, Roberto, and I Lolita, felt that it was important to continue with the family legacy.
We hope that someday my sons and even their cousins will decide to learn the family recipes and continue on with this rich legacy. We hope to continue to bring smiles and welcome all those who dine within our doors.
Grandpa Rafael left it to my uncle Rey hoping to retire. Grandpa Rafael couldn't get used to staying home and not working and at the age of 66 he opened El Farol.
The first day he opened El Farol, family legend says he only made fifty cents. Mexican food back in the sixties wasn't that well known. Only the locals that had grown up alongside with the Mexican culture and others that were adventurous came to try it. Pretty soon they got the word out and they would tell others about how good the homemade salsa was and that the refried beans were the best they ever tasted.
Born in Chimal, Mexico 1893.
Emigrated escaping the Mexican Revolution with a Mormon family. Married Rafael Torres. She was a talented cook and a pioneer in the Mexican LDS community of Salt Lake.
Luz Rodriguez Torres’ family in Chalco, Mexico late 1930’s. Grandma Margarita was also a gifted cook and sold food in the Market to supplement her income for 12 children. She taught Luz how to cook at the tender age of 8.
The first El Farol Mexican Restaurant right before it’s demolition. 1981.
Grandpa Rafael Torres and Rudy -proudly showing off one of the big cars he loved behind the El Charro Restaurant located on 200 South and Edison St.
This is me (Dolores) Lolita. Already “Voguing” at such a tender age with some Jackie-O glasses. It must have been a Saturday night because my hair is put in curlers for Sunday dress up. I was named Dolores just like Grandma Dolores (Grandma Lola).
Grandpa Rafael Torres around age 17 at the Salt Air posing with his hat in hand. (He would always carry his hat like that throughout his life). Born 1901 in Michoacan, Mexico, he came to work the Sugar Beet fields on the Brasero program while the world was at war and field hands were scarce.
Grandpa Rafael proudly showing off his cooking techniques (circa 1940’s). We still use some of the original pots and pans like this one in the picture.
The first El Farol Mexican Restaurant circa 1970’s located at 7223 S. State Street. The blue car be belonged to my Grandpa Rafael.
My Father Elias Torres (far left) in a teenage Mariachi group with 2 cousins and a friend. My grandma and her sisters encouraged their kids to learn to appreciate music.
Grandma Dolores (Lola) showing off a fancy dress circa 1930’s.