Obituaries : Johnny Lopez; Restaurant Owner


Johnny Lopez, owner of a popular Mexican eatery in Ventura, died this week after a yearlong battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 83.

Lopez had owned Johnny’s Mexican Food at 176 N. Ventura Ave. since 1961 and had previously owned Johnny’s Place in Santa Paula.

Lopez’s daughter, Tina Kraft of Ventura, said her father worked daily at Johnny’s until the last year, when a lung ailment kept him home and connected to an oxygen machine 24 hours a day.


Earlier this month, Kraft posted a sign announcing the closure of Johnny’s Mexican Food. She cited her father’s poor health and her need for more time with her family as reasons for the closure.

But the announcement brought an outcry from Johnny’s regulars, many of whom mark their patronage of the restaurant in decades rather than years.

On Christmas Eve, Lopez implored Kraft to keep the restaurant open, and she respected his wish. Hours later, Lopez suffered a stroke. He died Tuesday.

Kraft said she was awed by last week’s outpouring of love for her father and his restaurant.

“I just can’t believe all the people who have come forward and said things--it’s just overwhelming,” she said. “I’m glad it happened while he was still alive to know it.”

Lopez began serving Mexican food in Santa Paula in 1947. Later, the business moved to the Avenue area, where it has been for 33 years. The restaurant serves a varied clientele and its reputation goes beyond Ventura County.


A memorial service for Lopez is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 1338 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura.