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 Monday, Sept. 15, the 258th day of 2014. There are 107 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: The Rock River Illinois conference of the Methodist Church will hold its annual sessions this week in this city. About 200 ministers are expected to attend. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Brush electric company had prepared a new schedule of rates to become effective Oct. 1, with slightly increased rates to consumers. 1914 — 100 years ago: The Rock Island Aerie of Eagles made plans for the laying of the cornerstone of a new $50,000 Eagles Home. W.C. Maucker is to be master of ceremonies. 1939 — 75 years ago: Col. Charles A. Lindbergh spoke on "America and Foreign War" in a neutrality debate over nation wide radio hook-up. 1964 — 50 years ago: Two awards of the National Safety council were presented to the city of Rock Island today at noon at a meeting held in the YWCA. 1989 — 25 years ago: The final tallies are not yet in for the summer 1989 Quad-Cities tourism season, but officials are expecting the number of visitors to the area to be at least as good as, if not better than, 1988.