WATCH: The Original Henry
SAN ANGELO, TX — Among of the great things about local restaurants in San Angelo are the stories behind them. For years, The Original Henry's Mexican Restaurant has been a staple in San Angelo that's brought families together near and far.
The dream of the late Henry Hogeda Sr. came true, but the journey to creating one of San Angelo's loved restaurants wasn't an easy one for the late Henry Hogeda Sr. and his wife Ofelia when the two set out to open family's first restaurant in 1973.
WATCH: The Original Henry
"I was working at Ethicon, and Henry had his car washed at Randolph over there where Franco's is now," says Ofelia Hogeda, the late wife of Henry Hogeda Sr. "He came home so excited that he had rented a restaurant for $50 a month, and I said 'I'm not quitting my job, Henry,' He said that I wouldn't have to work that hard."
Mrs. Hogeda said she begged her husband not to go into the restaurant business, but two eventually agreed to move forward on their new adventure together.
The family's first restaurant opened where the current Franco's restaurant is located at 2218 Martin Luther King Drive with three booths and two tables.
"I'll never forget the first day we made $32 because we sold candy," says Mrs. Hogeda.
Although the first day wasn't what they had in mind, it didn't stop Henry and his wife from pushing forward.
"Sometimes nobody would come so we'd go dancing," says Mrs. Hogeda. "We'd leave everything on and we'd tell people to come see us. They would ask where and we would tell them where and they'd tell us 'we don't go on that part of town.' Finally, people started knowing about and we started picking up the business, but it took two years before we could hire one cook because I was me and him were doing everything."
Before the Hogeda's were able to hire their first cook Ofelia said Henry would start the day by making the food early in the morning then go and lay carpet and return to help her with the lunch rush.
The effort wasn't just felt from Henry and Ofelia, but on their children as well.
"My memories were they worked long hours and ended up working until three o'clock in the morning," said Henry's oldest daughter and manager of The Original Henry's Restaurant Rosa Torres. "We would have to sleep in the van on a mattress so we wouldn't have to stay by ourselves."
Once San Angelo and West Texas got a taste of The Original Henry's Mexican Restaurant, it was a hit. Henry Hogeda Sr. not only ventured outside of San Angelo with a restaurant in Abilene but would eventually open other variations of Henry's across San Angelo.
Since his passing in May of 2017, the presence of Henry Hogeda Sr. is still felt.
"Since my dad passed," said Rosa, "We've had people come in and tell us about the kitchen equipment that was purchased for their church or that, 'your dad gave me my first job, or your dad helped us with this and that.' Things that my dad never really shared with us. I know that he did a lot for a lot of people that he never bragged about and that makes me very proud of him because he wasn't a person to help just to be recognized. After he died I found out he did so many things I never knew about."
For Ofelia Hogeda it's the legacy left behind by the late Henry Hogeda Sr. that continues to impact her, the family and the restaurant.
"I have a lot of faith in God, and he's given me so much peace since Henry died," says Ofelia. "If something goes wrong I go to the bathroom and I talk to Henry and I ask him to ask God to please help us. We have to continue. We can't just let it go. We've worked too hard to be where we're at."
On Thursday, May 23 with plates named after one of Henry's grandchildren, the restaurant honored the late Henry Hogeda Sr. by donating proceeds to the American Cancer Society. According to the restaurant, a $2,500 donation was made on behalf of Henry. Hogeda Sr. battled lung cancer for five months before his passing on May 22, 2017.
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