MOLINE -- There is one traditional answer Isabel Reyes offers customers at her Mexican restaurant who ask, "What is the special?"
She replies: "Everything."
Ms. Reyes, 78, and her husband, Matthew, 84, are marking the 50th anniversary of El Pavito on Saturday with a celebration of live music from noon to 2 p.m. and starting again at 5 p.m. Both still are involved with the Moline restaurant at 2715 Avenue of the Cities now managed by their son, Gerard Reyes, and great nephew, Tony Gonzales.
"Fifty years is a long time for anything," Ms. Reyes said with a smile, attributing the restaurant's long life to her mother. "We cook our food the same way my mom cooked it in 1962. Mom had a way of cooking.
"We keep the customers pleased with what they eat," she said, adding people who have moved away from the area come to El Pavito when they return and tell her how happy they are the restaurant still is there.
"Some of our customers have been coming for 40 years," she said.
Ms. Reyes' parents, Ponciano and Francica Olvera, opened the restaurant in 1962 at 1311 5th Ave., Moline. While Mr. Reyes was working full time, Ms. Reyes said she would go to the restaurant and help her mother make salsa, learning to cook like her mother.
Ms. Reyes said all of her seven siblings declined to take over El Pavito when her parents decided to retire in 1973. But Mr. Reyes accepted his mother-in-law's offer, and, because he had a full-time job, Ms. Reyes offered to "help" her husband.
"I am still here," she said.
Ms. Reyes helps at the restaurant six mornings per week. Mr. Reyes, who retired from Case IH in 1989, also is at the restaurant daily.
"I like it. I enjoy the people," Mr. Reyes said, adding he remembers many from downtown before El Pavito moved to its current location in 1976.
Ms. Reyes said her family always has been involved in the restaurant -- from nieces working in the back to her brother and nephew helping with renovations.
Even during trying times -- such as the late-1980s when the recession hurt several large manufacturing companies -- the restaurant has remained open.
"Business was great, then they closed," she said of the companies. "We have had our good times and our bad. Thank goodness the good times are back."
If you go:
What: El Pavito Where: 2715 Avenue of the Cities, Moline Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. Closed Sunday.
Today is Friday, March 7, the 66th day of 2014. There are 299 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat came up to her dock yesterday and was punching away at the ice, which is crowded up against the Iowa shore. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.C. Bromley, of Rock Island, has received a patent on a steam activated valve. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Major. C.W. Hawes, head clerk of the Modern Woodmen of America, was honored by department chiefs on his 73rd birthday 1939 -- 75 years ago: Mayor Robert Galbraith declared that 75 percent of the people here have talked to "favor construction of Rock Island's new city hall in Spencer Square." 1964 -- 50 years ago: C.H. Langman & Sons, Rock Island, has been awarded the general contract for partial rehabilitation and modernization of the main building at the East Moline State Hospital. The Langman firm bid $424,839. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The cost of living in the Quad-Cities is 6.8 percent less than the average of 260 metropolitan areas.