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Calvo, Antonio and Luz Mendez (1896-1982) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Calvo, Antonio and Luz Mendez (1896-1982)

Historical Note:

Antonio Regalado Calvo (1900-1973) was born in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Maria de la Luz Aguilar Mendez (1896-1982) was born in La Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. Both of them, independently, moved north during the time of the Mexican Revolution. Antonio and Luz married in 1926 and after living near downtown Los Angeles for a short time, moved to San Fernando, where Luz had extended family.

In their first years together, Luz worked in the local fruit packing houses while Antonio found employment working in restaurants, hotels, pool halls, and later, on Works Project Administration (WPA) projects. Eventually, the couple started their own business selling Mexican food to workers in the local packing houses. Working in her home’s kitchen, Luz prepared tacos, tamales, and burritos, which Antonio (and sometimes their children) then sold to workers during their lunch breaks.

As the business grew, Antonio and Luz were eventually able to open a small restaurant. Their restaurant, Las Delicias Café, did not find a permanent location until 1946. By this time, the restaurant had developed a distinctive Sonora-style menu and a loyal following. Known for its pure and simple dishes made of high-quality ingredients, Las Delicias Café was a popular San Fernando restaurant until it closed in the early 1970s.

Luz and Antonio had four children, who were raised working in the restaurant, waiting tables or helping out in the kitchen. The family’s primary language was Spanish and the children learned English in school. Antonio gained a working command of English and was able to communicate with his English-speaking customers.

The couple was active in the Santa Rosa parish, the Catholic Church in San Fernando that served the Mexican immigrant population. They were active in civic affairs, participating in the San Fernando “fiesta days,” and catering its “mantilla dinner” held at Saint Ferdinand’s church. They were also involved in exchanges with San Fernando’s sister city, Manzanillo, in the state of Colima, Mexico.

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