RAPID CITY, SD — Hispanic Heritage Month began as a week established in 1968 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.
President Reagan extended it to one month in 1988, coinciding with the independence anniversaries of several Latin American countries.
According to the 2019 census, the Hispanic population made up nearly 20% of the population of the United States, making them the largest racial minority in the country.
And while it’s the opposite for Rapid City, the families keep their legacies alive, like Jorge Mata.
Mata first moved to the city when he was four years old and has since called the area home.
“It’s a small town,” he described. “I grew up here and it feels like home too.”
Mata is the owner of El Sombrero Mexican restaurant on East North Street. The restaurant serves authentic Mexican dishes prepared from family recipes.
His stepfather owned the Mexican restaurant La Costa in the late 1990s. More locations were added later. The restaurant was eventually purchased by Mata’s uncle.
However, the sites have closed due to the pandemic.
Mata decided to pursue his own adventure in 2018.
“It’s a family restaurant. My family and I were working here, and we were doing our own thing,” he explained. “It went on sale in July 2018. That’s when I talked to my family about coming back and decided to go.”
Its restaurant serves those looking to experience a different culture. And over the years, the Hispanic population continues to grow.
“Every year it grows,” said Abel Diaz, a waiter at the restaurant. “We are seeing more people coming from out of state. The majority of them start a home and start a family. And they are becoming regulars here too.
El Sombrero is open from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m., with 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Sundays.
To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, go to www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov.