Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tia Lupitas July 2009

"BAAA AAARB!" "You ate it!" "I didn't get a chance to take a picture!"

"I was hungry!"

Photo donated from the private collection of Barb Hopkins

Viva Mexico Tia Lupita Porfirio Diaz #92 in SJC 333-156-2245

Barb and I had comida this afternoon at one of my favorite restaurants on the lake. Mmmm, maybe it's because it's owned by one of my favorite people at the lake, Agustín Vázquez.

Tia and Agustín

I had the incredible good luck of renting my first house from Agustín and having him as my property manager. We became friends as he helped me and my mom get adjusted to our new house and life here in Los Charales. He was a fountain of information, and not the kind you get in the Real Estate brochures, but the real deal. Agustín is a San Juan Cosalá homeboy, and I liked him instantly!

This is the kind of property manager he was. . .one day, while having a dinner party, I reached into the freezer for something and felt pain. Like hot. Nah, can't be, must have been cold. Reached back again, definitely hot! It's hot in the back of my freezer, behind the frozen peas? I pulled the stuff out and saw smoke, blackness, and a little flame . . . in the back of my freezer!

I called . . . who else . . . my property manager.
"OMG, I said, the freezer is on fire!"
Pull the plug, I'll be right over.

An hour later
Agustín and his brother arrived in a pick-up with another fridge in the back. They muscled that one in and the burnt one out.
'It'll be back in a few days, he said, use this one."
"Where did you get this," I asked.
"It's mine. M
y wife moved our food out and took it to my brothers house, you can use ours until this one is fixed," Agustín explained.
And off they went.
I was stunned.

Soon he started contracting and began building houses, then bigger and fancier houses, then monster houses. His life became more and more stressful as he worked hard in order to provide for his wife, three big and growing boys, and extended family. Then, predictably, he had a health issue and was told by his doctor to chill out. So, he looked around for something else to do.

Meanwhile, his tia Lupita, Maria Guadalupe Vásquez, had been faithfully owning and operating her 3 table fonda on Porfirio Diaz #92 in SJC for 25 years and supporting her extended family.
Agustín had an idea.

Using his building skills, and some money he had saved from building houses, poco a poco he built Tia Lupitas from a 3 table fonda into what it is now - a comfortable Mexican food restaurant with a good wait staff (remember those growing boys?), an experienced cook and kitchen staff, and Agustín working the door/ kitchen/ washing dishes or tending bar.

Sons top left: Mauricio and Miguel. Bottom left: Rodrigo and friend Martin

When the mountain above SJC came down a couple of years ago, Tia Lupita's was Grand Central Station churning out free meals for the people of the village all day and night. Agustín calculates that over the 10 days it took SJC to get back on it's feet they served between 25,000 and 30,000 meals to the people of San Juan, the firefighters, EMS personnel, police, the kids in school, and anyone else who wandered in hungry. All free!

It was an inspiring sight. People from all over brought donated food and Agustín picked up the tab for all the other expenses, incidentals and ingredients for the meals. Donations arrived in the back of every kind of vehicle you can imagine and became mountains of carrots, onions, potatoes, etc. in the restaurant for the prep people to climb over and around. The carneceria across from the restaurant sent bags of meat. Hordes of volunteers chopped. Tia coordinated it all by circulating among the chaos directing and deciding what would go into which casuela. Magic was produced.

The police came and meals were loaded in the back of their pick ups for transport to the school for the kids.

One hundred and fifty San Juan families lost everything they had that morning. Agustín was ready for them.

Today, Tia Lupita is a hub for bi-cultural people. Agustín's perfect English, humanitarian spirit, and incomparable hospitality has become a magnet for foreigners, Tapatio visitors, and local Mexicans. Often there is music and entertainment on the weekends. The walls are adorned with local art and an unbelievable mural by Isidro Xilonzóchitl covers an entire wall depicting SJC's earlier times.

Now that you've met Agustín and his wonderful family,
drop by for a good meal and some fine hospitality.

Closed Thursdays.

Left to right: Agustín's wife Antonia, Agustín, Tia, and Male


  1. What a great story. I love Tia Lupita too!! Augustin is a really nice guy and your story about his giving spirit is so right on!!!

    Keep up the good work-


  2. Thanks Jonnie! He is the best, and there are many more stories of things he has done in the community and the people he helps.
    One night when we were there for dinner, there was a table of teenagers writing laboriously. It was his English class, and he was coaching them on their university entrance applications. They all got in!

  3. it was delicious! i couldn't help myself. if you haven't been there to eat, go! if you have been, go back!