Alfonso S. Lara, the man who started the popular Ceres restaurant bearing his name, Alfonso's Mexican Restaurant, died Tuesday, Dec. 10. He was 84.
Mr. Lara started the Ceres restaurant in 1973 after first bussing tables at Burgie's Drive-In and then working hard as the head chef at Carmen's Restaurant in Modesto's McHenry Village for 10 years. His wife of 58 years, Martha, was an important member of the restaurant's team as the couple set up in a former coffee shop at Fifth and Lawrence streets.
Born March 3, 1929, in Sonora, Mexico, and typified the American dream of a hard working immigrant. He moved to Stanislaus County 59 years ago. He was a staunch family man who loved watching football and Giants baseball when he wasn't working at the restaurant. Alfonso also enjoyed trips to the casino.
The restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary in May. Assemblyman Adam Gray sent an Assembly resolution which noted that Alfonso's Mexican Grill "has become renowned for its consistently delicious food and perpetually friendly service" and noted that the Lara family "has become an integral part of the Ceres community, with Alfonso building his reputation by serving Mexican food with charm and in a warm, inviting atmosphere."
The resolution also noted that daughter Sally Lara's management of the eatery has "continued the tradition set by her parents of keeping the restaurant the ‘to go' place in Ceres."
Besides his wife, he leaves behind three children, Sally Lara of Ceres, Alma Lara and son Alfonso Lara Jr.; three sisters; and four grandchildren, Matthew, Patrick, Jasmine and Olivia.