Oceanside, CA – As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) reflects on the celebration that takes place every year from September 15th to October 15th to honor the culture, heritage, history, and contributions of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. California’s 49th Congressional District is home to many Latino communities whose cultural and historical richness demonstrate the strength of its’ diverse people.
“As the grandson of Mexican immigrants from my mother’s side, I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate Hispanic heritage and the many contributions Hispanic people have made to our country. My grandfather, Rosendo Bringas, became a U.S. citizen at the age of 50 and it was one of the proudest days of his life,” said Rep. Levin. “As a member of the Hispanic Caucus, I am dedicated to preserving the values my grandparents instilled in me and will continue fighting on behalf of Mexican Americans and immigrant communities. "
Rep. Levin launched Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing Erica Alfaro, a motivational speaker and first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Mexico, as his September Constituent of the Month.
To lift Latino and Latina voices during Hispanic Heritage Month, Rep. Levin hosted a virtual town hall with U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, Vista Unified School District Schoolboard President Cipriano Vargas, and Co-Founder and Co-Director of Universidad Popular, Dr. Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez for a conversation covering topics of significance to the Latino community.
The strength of the Latino community is reflected in the entrepreneurial spirit. For that reason, Rep. Levin presented Congressional Certificates of Special Recognition to the following small businesses in the cities of Vista and Oceanside: Frank's Mexican Grill, Francisco's Deli, disFRUTA, and El Kafecito. These entrepreneurs shared their stories of sacrifice and success. Latino communities have always been essential in our country, and Rep. Levin was proud to honor that heritage of resilience.
The following recognized businesses owners agreed to share their stories:
Frank's Mexican Grill--Francisco (Frank) Javier Sarmiento and Maria Gudelia Sarmiento of Vista are the owners and operators of Frank’s Mexican Grill, a local family-owned business, that first opened its doors to the Vista community in 1998 and is set to be in business for 24-years in April of 2022. Francisco first arrived in the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico at the age of 15 with no money and no job. He recalls working in the fields picking avocados, tomatoes, strawberries, and grapes, and as time went on, he decided that he wanted to be the owner of his own business, and dedicated himself to learning the ins-and-outs of how to run a business. Maria later joined him in the intensive labor it takes to run a business. Their first year of business was slow, but over time Frank’s Mexican Grill has become a well-known restaurant and a favorite of local residents.
Francisco's Deli--Analilia Lara from Vista is originally from Michoacán, Mexico and grew up visiting Francisco’s Deli with her mother where they bought dough or masa to make fresh tamales. She remembers that at that time, she and her mother collected cans and bottles to have enough money to buy the dough. Analilia noticed that there were many versions of Mexican food, usually with an Americanized style. She dreamed of opening her own restaurant where she could serve authentic handmade Mexican food and make customers feel like they were eating their grandparents' recipes. In 1990 Analilia and her mother's dream came true when the original owner of Francisco’s Mexican Deli wanted to sell his business and her mother bought it. Eleven years later, Analilia bought the business from her mother and she has now been serving the Vista community for more than 20 years.
disFRUTA--Israel Ruiz and Tere Ruiz are the owners of disFRUTA, a family business that with their five children has been serving local communities for more than seven years. Their food truck is the latest addition to their business which already includes two locations in North County San Diego, the first in San Marcos and the other in Oceanside. Both Tere and Isreal are originally from Mexico City and dreamed of being owners of their own business one day. Eventually, they saved enough money to open disFRUTA in San Marcos in 2014 and expanded to Oceanside a year later. The Ruiz Family is grateful for the continued support of the Oceanside community and are committed to providing both quality ingredients and quality service. Their disFRUTA locations are their home away from home and they look forward to serving the community for many more years to come.
El Kafecito--Denisse Melgoza and Rodrigo Rodriguez are the owners of El Kafecito, a coffee stand that they opened to the public in March of 2021 during the pandemic. Denisse and Rodrigo always knew they wanted to open their own business and were inspired by Rodrigo’s parents who own a corn stand in Valley Center and already had experience as business owners. The couple found a location in Vista that was a former coffee stand and decided to continue serving coffee, but with a twist: the incorporation of unique Latin flavors such as mazapan, horchata, and tres leches that reflects both their cultural heritage and that of the local community. They are grateful for the support of the local Vista community and are inspired every day to continue realizing their passions of serving unique and quality coffee.