On Hatteberg's People, immigration is at the forefront of American issues. I'm as guilty as any reporter of not doing enough coverage of our Hispanic population. Tonight, though, I want to tell you the story of Francisco Rizo originally from Mexico and his family and how through perseverance, hard work and love for this country, they are in every way, an American success story.
"My grandfather and my father struggled a lot to get here."
A new Mexican restaurant opened up on Wichita's West side called Chico's. The owner is 35 year old Lupita Cordova. Her story begins back in 1974 with her grandfather Francisco Rizo.
"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here."
Francisco came to this county illegally in the late 1940's, registered for the U.S. Army, was called to active duty and served nearly three years in the armed forces.
"I liked it very much. I know I was a good soldier because they sent me to Infantry school to teach the officers."
After his army service, they deported him back to Mexico. But he was already married here…and had children. But he also had to come back because he had a dream
"So I worked in the restaurant in Mexico before I come to this country."
After a series of jobs in Wichita, he bought this little place at Douglas and West Street.
"The first day I sell 40 dollars, second day 70 dollars, then came Friday and I made 3-4 hundred dollars…then I figured I started something."
And so it was that this restaurant was to become a family operation….over time Fransico turned it over to daughter Salina, then son Chico and finally Lupita Cordova, Francisco's granddaughter bought it to honor her father and grandfather and to continue the tradition.
"If you help your parents in life, you'll always get something in return."
The original restaurant Lupita bought is scheduled to be torn down to make way for street improvements. Now she has built a new one, Chico's, on Maple.
"At first it was difficult and I wanted to give up, but we made it."
It's here she has staked her future…built on the hard work of her grandfather who despite deportation became an American citizen and an American success.
"That was my dream, and it came true."
Now Francisco, in his 80's takes care of his wife Magdelena who has health problems.
He's a hero for all of us, so when something happens to him, it is the end of the world for most of us.
"I have everything I desire in my life."