Mexican Restaurant attributes longevity to
community giving and hard work.
STOCKTON – The cash register at the front of Miguel’s is the same one that’s been there since the Mexican restaurant opened nearly 40 years ago – one of many traditions that has endured at the family-owned Pacific Avenue mainstay.
“We’re really family-oriented, the food is excellent, and there are great people here” said Maria Herrera, who owns and runs the restaurant which her father-in-law – the original Miguel – opened 36 years ago. Since then, the restaurant has survived changing economic times and family hardship, maintaining a loyal clientele and a community-minded approach to business.
Among the paintings and posters on the walls of Miguel’s are photos and plaques from local youth sports teams the restaurant has sponsored over the years.
“We try to do a lot in the community,” Herrera said. “And it pays back.”
Herrera said she had never considered running a restaurant – she married into the business. And now, she describes the commitment it takes to run a successful restaurant as being something like a marriage itself.
“You’re kind of married to it,” said Herrera, who helps wait tables and handles other restaurant chores. “Whenever it’s open, you have to be available.”
You also have to be prepared to weather bad times as well as good.
Herrera and her husband, Michael Herrera, took over the restaurant in 1991 after her father-in-law died.
Then, in 1998, a fire at a neighboring business left so much smoke and water damage at Miguel’s that the restaurant was shuttered for just over a year.
“It took us 13 months to rebuild,” Maria Herrera said, “But we did reopen.”
Finally, about five years ago, Michael Herrera died. Maria decided to stay on at the Miguel’s for the sake of family – her own and the one she’s adopted at the restaurant.
She said it’s important to her to have something to pass on to her two grown sons. She also wants to protect the livelihoods of her employees, one of whom has been at Miguel’s for 30 years.
“If I were to sell it, they would lose their jobs,” Herrera said. “Most of them are like family.”
In recent years, the restaurant has expanded, adding a bar and a private banquet room that can accommodate parties of up to 65 people.
Still, she said, the business remains committed to the values – and quality food – that it opened with.
“I love our tacos and our grilled-chicken salad. And our soups are excellent, all homemade,” Herrera said. “We’re grateful for our loyal customers, and for the younger people who are continuing to support us.”
Miguel’s is located at 7555 Pacific Ave. It is open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.