Esteban’s Mexican Restaurant reopened on March 1 after owner Esteban Gonzalez passed from COVID-19 earlier this year in January. The restaurant is now under wife Francisca Bazan Gonzalez’s management.
Bazan Gonzalez had no doubt of reopening the business; she couldn’t imagine walking by the location of the restaurant to see it shut down. She knew she had to continue Esteban’s legacy.
“Esteban would have not liked it if we never opened the business, he’d like us to get ahead,” Bazan Gonzalez said.
As Bazan Gonzalez is back at the restaurant working again she remembers the times when her husband would play “La Chona” after a long day of serving customers and it would uplift her mood and she immediately would start dancing as they cleaned the restaurant for hours. These types of moments are the ones Bazan Gonzalez misses the most.
“I want to get strong but sometimes I have thoughts in my mind about Esteban and I just continue remembering Esteban because every day we were here together,” Bazan Gonzalez said.
When Bazan Gonzalez thinks about the moments they shared, she misses Esteban deeply, she wants to think he’s just on vacation in Mexico.
Though times have been difficult for Bazan Gonzalez, she was shocked by the community responses on the GoFundMe page started by Arcata Main street for the family. They have raised $28,436. The love and support from the community has motivated Gonzalez to keep moving forward.
“I thank God today for what they donated to me,” Gonzalez said. “It helped me with my bills, it helped me to continue the business.”
It was after this support that Bazan Gonzalez realized how much of an impact Esteban made on people. To keep pushing, to move forward positively, she has the support of her nephew and new employee, Luis Calderon that will eventually take on the food truck.
Calderon said that they spent a lot of time together going on trips to Washington, going to concerts in casinos. He knew he had to step down from his former cooking position at a Chinese restaurant to help his aunt. They have both stepped into new roles and are finding success through this new experience.
Esteban’s Mexican Restaurant was awarded the Arcata Business of the Year award by the Arcata Chamber of Commerce in 2021. Esteban’s is open for business Mondays – Saturdays from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m at 1021 I St, Arcata, CA 95521.
“I want to follow the legacy of the restaurant until I can no longer work myself or until I’m fully tired,” Bazan Gonzalez said.
Featured image by Karina Yamileth Ramos Villalobos