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El Cholo restaurant, a beloved Los Angeles staple, celebrates 100 years


Ron Salisbury and his son Brendan guided us through El Cholo restaurant and it feels more like El Cholo Museum.

At 90 years old, Salisbury said he is looking back for the first time as the restaurant his grandparents founded now reaches its centennial.

"I can remember being in the restaurant. I can remember the sounds and the smells and the energy," said Salisbury as he recalled some of his earliest childhood memories.

Rosa and Alejandro Borquez -- who had roots in the Mexican state of Sonora -- left Tucson, Arizona, and opened the first family restaurant in Los Angeles in 1923 called Sonora Café.

The flagship restaurant's walls are like a walk through history; from photos of the founders to menus from the 30s, when most items were under 50 cents.

Although the prices have changed, the Salisbury family has been careful to protect El Cholo's authenticity. Among the staple dishes: the Sonora-style enchilada and the chile relleno.

Over the decades, the cozy booths have welcomed generations of customers from all walks of life.

Next week, the city of Los Angeles is naming the intersection of Western Avenue and 11th Street after the restaurant's founders.

"Really kind of hopefully, cements their legacy," said Brendon Salisbury. "You created something that lasted 100 years. It's a worthwhile kind of honor for them, I think."

Brendan, the business' chief financial officer, and his father are carrying on their legacy.

"It occurred to us, 'Let's do something special outside of who we are,'" said Ron Salisbury.

To celebrate their centennial, El Cholo aims to raise $1 million for pediatric cancer research and donate the proceeds to Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Children's Hospital Orange County.

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