I am saddened by the death of Manuel Rojas, operator of a "joint" that exemplified the best of Los Angeles. Multi-generational families, gang types, dating couples and cops mixed easily when charmed by Manuel and those heavenly burritos.
I once saw four Japanese businessmen in suits eating lunch there. Shocked at how inexpensive the food was compared to Japan, they each ordered four of the "Manuel's Special" burritos — at 5 pounds each. The staff could barely conceal their amusement as they served those monsters.
A more personal recollection was when I took my wife and son to El Tepeyac Cafe one New Year's Day. Manuel greeted us at the door and invited us to join the private party inside, even though he barely knew us. He offered me a drink and poured a water glass of whiskey right to the brim.
It's hard to forget a guy like that.