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 Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000. 1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city. 1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association. 1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College. 1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.