102 years ago, Jesucita Mijares founded a small tortilla factory in Pasadena, which quickly became known for its Mexican dishes, including tamales, made using a metate stone grinder.
Today, Mijares Mexican Restaurant is the oldest Mexican restaurant in Pasadena. It’s still a popular favourite, known for its authentic regional and traditional cuisine. With Jesucita’s passing in 1988, the Mijares family continued the matriarch’s culinary traditions to preserve the authenticity of the food offered to customers.
What is its secret to being the oldest Mexican restaurant in Pasadena?
“Lots of prayers, lots of hard work, good food, treating people the way you would want to be treated in every color,” said R-lene Mijares-de Lang, Jesucita’s granddaughter, who is now a partner. and general manager of the Mexican restaurant Mijares, located at 145 Palmetto Drive Pasadena.
With over a century in the industry, Mexican restaurant Mijares continues to thrive, not reinventing itself. R-lene thinks there is no need to reinvent to attract customers, saying the restaurant has continued community support as it is.
The restaurant is currently operated by six members of the Mijares family and the oldest of them is R-lene’s mother, Alice Mijares Recendez, 90, daughter of Jesucita.
Over the years, the family has made only a few changes to the menu. and added new drinks.
The culinary tradition of Jesucita, in particular the use of giant volcanic stones to grind grains, has been preserved.
“I think if you’ve been around for over a hundred years and you still have a thriving business, why reinvent yourself? I think it’s when you have problems that you have to reinvent,” R-lene said.
In addition to offering hearty Mexican meals, R-lene believes the community loves the restaurant because he knows how to give back to the community.
Over the years, R-lene herself has served on various nonprofit boards in Pasadena.
“Our family realizes the importance of giving back to your community which has given us so much for over a hundred years. So I think that’s another reason people respect us, you know, besides the service and the food and the great margaritas.
Despite enjoying strong community support for a century, Mexican restaurant Mijares, which has more than 40 employees and serves more than 600 people, also faced challenges early in the year. the COVID-19 pandemic, while eating in restaurants was still prohibited.
“People were very good at supporting us, but a restaurant cannot survive on take-out food alone – a restaurant like ours, which can seat over 600 people.”
R-lene said that over the season they had to figure out new ways to run the business differently with all the COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Despite the easing of pandemic restrictions to date, R-lene believes everyone in the restaurant industry is still facing serious financial challenges with the dramatic increase in food and fuel prices.
Those factors, she said, prompted restaurants, including Mexican restaurant Mijares, to raise menu prices.
“Of course we’ve all had to raise prices in order to stay on top of what’s going on in the market and inflation, gas, taxes, I mean it’s a whole different game of ball.”
Despite these challenges, R-lene assured customers that Mexican restaurant Mijares will continue to do what it has done over the years. “We are not quitters. We are just fighters and hard workers.
There have been plans to expand the restaurant in the past, including adding a beachfront location, but R-lene said “it just wasn’t right.”
“If something were to happen and it felt good, surely Mijares would be open because we’re not afraid to take risks,” she said.
This Thursday, September 15, the Mexican restaurant Mijares will host “A Night In Tequila” from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to celebrate its 102nd anniversary. The event includes tequila tastings, wine pairings and more.
To learn more about the event, visit: https://www.mijaresrestaurant.com