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Downtown's El Cholo Remains a Family Affair

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, June 07, 2010, at 03:37PM
Father Son Ed Fuentes

Ron and Brandon Salisbury on opening day for Downtown's El Cholo.

Venerable Mexican restaurant El Cholo opened the doors to its new South Park location today, the first Downtown for the small chain of family-owned eateries.

The first El Cholo, and by far the most famous, opened on Western Avenue in 1927, four years after founder George Salisbury's first eatery, the Sonora Café. Salisbury's descendants still run the restaurants today.

It turns out that El Cholo has been eying Downtown just as intently as fans of the restaurant have been awaiting its opening. blogdowntown was first to report the new Downtown location in February.

“I grew up coming to shop with my parents," says Ron Salisbury, George's grandson. "Downtown was always part of my growing up." He tells of the day as a child where he and his dad hit a full afternoon of matinees in Broadway’s theaters.

Ron's son, Brendon, comes from a brood of young Salisburys raised in the kitchen doing summer work and later working the tables and bars. Now a recent graduate of USC with a degree in History, he lived Downtown one year while in school and now plans to stay in the family business.

History may be just the right major for someone whose family restaurant has menu items marked with dates of their creation or debut, and business cards that use the titles of “Grandson of the Founder” and “Great-Grandson of the Founder.”

“It keep a perspective on life,” says Ron of his son’s studies.

When the Downtown upswing started, Ron began to look at space while passing through. “Driving and driving, keeping a look-out. Nothing ever turned up," he recalls while welcoming opening day lunch-goers. “Then I got a call about this place. I didn’t know it was here. It fits. This works.”

The space they found was the former home of Liberty Grill at 1037 S. Flower. The whole family rolled up their sleeves to re-do the venue, reworking the space and adjusting the outdoor patio to suit their dining style.

Hours are a work in progress, with the restaurant currently open from 11am to 10pm Monday through Friday, 11am to 11pm on Saturdays and 11am to 9pm on Sundays. Closing hours are intended to be flexible to accommodate events at nearby L.A. Live.

Lunch parking is validated for $5 at the lot to El Cholo's south –– if there are no events at L.A. Live. Valet parking is always available at the small lot north of the restaurant.

The menu is the same as the El Cholo menu in Western, which first opened in 1927.

“It’s a pleasure to be here, trust me,” says Ron, with his son nodding along.

El Cholo / 1037 S. Flower / 213-746-7750

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