Originally Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012, 7:48 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 27, 2012, 8:16 pm

El Pavito marks 50 years in Moline

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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

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Photo: John Greenwood
Isabel and Matthew Reyes are celebrating 50 years in business with their El Pavito Mexican restaurant, located at 2715 Avenue of the Cities, Moline. Her dad is the one who first launched the restaurant in 1962 on 5th Ave. in Moline.

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.