PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- One of the oldest active restaurants in Southern California celebrated a major milestone Wednesday.
Mijares Mexican Restaurant in Pasadena celebrated 103 years in business and 91-year-old Alice Mijares Recendez remembers every step of her journey with the beloved eatery.
"It's just so fast," she said. "I can't believe we've been here 103 years ... my God."
Alice's mother, Jesucita Mijares, started the iconic restaurant in 1920 after moving to Pasadena from Jalisco, Mexico.
"There was a sign in front that said 'Mijares Mexican Restaurant' with a little tortilla factory in the back, and so that's how she started, making her tamales and her tortillas and that good stuff," said Alice. "She was a tremendous cook."
For more than a century, the restaurant has operated in the same location on Palmetto Drive.
"Our grandmother purchased the property here, which were four houses," said Tom Recendez. "The largest of the houses on the property was the restaurant that burned in 1979, but the house that's behind us, which is now our banquet room, was our grandmother's original home where we lived."
The business fought through the depression, a devastating arson fire, and the COVID-19 pandemic, all because of one thing.
"Family," said Tom. "It's strength. We don't always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day, we're family. We have to stick together."
The Mijares' authentic flavor, classic margaritas and Jesucita's recipes are key to the major milestone, making the restaurant one of the oldest ever in the Los Angeles area. Alice remembers her time working at the restaurant, keeping the sense of unity alive.
"I was a waitress for 30 years, I was a busboy, I was everything because our mother taught us to work and also to be united," she said.
The family said they know Jesucita is smiling down, proud of the legacy she built, and the family carrying it on.
"We were taught by our grandmother, and our mother, now four generations here, and we love it," said Tom. "We're going to keep rockin' it."
The next generation is already preparing for the future. Two great granddaughters now work at the restaurant.
To learn more, visit Mijares Mexican Restaurant's website.