LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Gabriel and Alicia Ramirez, the owners of Juanito’s Restaurant, are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico and have centered their business and family around God and family unity.
Throughout their 32-year marriage the Ramirez’s had three children and have worked alongside each other for the majority of their marriage.
“We came for a better life because where we’re from there are no opportunities. There is no progress there, you work very hard just to be able to eat,” said Mr. Ramirez in Spanish.
Mr. Ramirez arrived at the age of 18 to North Carolina in 1986 where he began working as an apple picker. He obtained his American documents after arriving through The Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1990.
He then returned to Mexico in 1991 where he met Mrs. Ramirez and they married after six months of dating. They spent about six years apart while he worked in the United States and she stayed behind in Mexico waiting for her American documents.
After moving to Georgia, he worked for a Mexican restaurant in Cedartown as a dishwasher and was turned down an offer to become an investor. He then partnered with family members and opened his own restaurant alongside his partners and wife, Alicia, in Bremen. He decided to name the restaurants Juanito’s in honor of his employees because many were named Juan.
Only one person ate at Juanito’s Bremen the opening week but despite having a slow start eventually the restaurant became very popular which lead to the evolution of Juanito’s LaGrange. Mr. Ramirez created Juanito’s LaGrange during a day off when he was visiting the city and discovered a steakhouse that was closing down.
Due to a problematic parking Juanito’s LaGrange lasted about three years before expanding its reach in the community.
“Sometimes we had to take money from Juanito’s Bremen to sustain Juanito’s LaGrange,” said Mr. Ramirez in Spanish.
“It hasn’t been easy but here we are,” said Mrs. Ramirez in Spanish.
Both restaurants were opened within a year and he left Juanito’s Bremen to his brother-in-law and moved his family to LaGrange where they have been for 20 years.
Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez agree that family is very important and credit family unity and God for their success. They said despite the challenges they’ve faced they always continued pushing for their children so they could provide a better life for them.
“It was really for them, that is what has kept us going,” said Mr. Ramirez in Spanish.
“That is what made us want it so they could study here and become professionals here, that has been my goal and what I have always asked God for,” said Mrs. Ramirez in Spanish.
“We want them to have their careers so they never have to go through what we went through,” said Mr. Ramirez in Spanish.
They both agree that being Hispanic means being proud of oneself and your roots as well as being honest with yourself.