Arturo Andrew's Legacy: Fort Lee family trying to keep father's restaurant alive
A Fort Lee family is doing what they can to survive the pandemic and keep their father’s legacy alive.
Arturo Andrew started the restaurant Cinco de Mayo almost 20 years ago.
“He loved cooking, he loved the kitchen, he loved the serving,” says Arturo’s wife Rosario Andrew.
Arturo and Rosario moved to Fort Lee from Mexico to pursue the American Dream.
“He came in an airplane at 10 a.m. and he had an interview already at 4 p.m. It was unbelievable,” Rosario says.
The family started the restaurant on May 5, hence the name. For almost 20 years, Arturo and his wife’s hard work can be found in the kitchen, in every dish and in the restaurant’s staff.
Arturo Jr. and Angeles are just two of the Andrew children. They work full-time at the restaurant, while also attending college full-time.
“He was a very good boss. And he did things the right way, the straight way. He always tried to instill that in us, the hard work and everything,” says Angeles.
The year 2020 has been hard for the Andrew family. The restaurant was forced to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then on July 30, Arturo Andrew passed away. He was 50 years old.
“Back in January, my dad was right here working hard,” says Arturo Jr. “Nobody thought six months later he would die.”
"It's very hard for me to try and come into his place every day and not see him because my favorite thing personally was walking in here and him standing right where I'm standing. And him being like ‘Mi Niña,’” Angeles says.
Arturo became sick in the spring and went into the hospital. But it was too late and his organs failed.
“Emotionally, we deal with it a little, step by step, daily by daily,” Rosario says.
The family was already struggling through the year like countless other businesses trying to survive the pandemic. The family is now drowning in debt.
“The bills here at the restaurant, a lot of medical bills. Also, I have a mortgage,” Rosario says.
“We got like one medical bill and it was already at $30,00. Just one hospital bill and he was at three hospitals,” says Angeles.
The family considered closing the restaurant. But closing wasn’t Arturo’s way.
“He literally died still with the same work ethic. He was in his hospital bed asking me, ‘Did you do this? Did you do this for the restaurant?’” Angeles says.
So, the family decided to keep the restaurant open and find other sources of income. Rosario got a job at Ikea and the Arturo’s children started working at the restaurant full time. One of Arturo’s younger sons will start working there too when he is of age.
Now the community that Cinco de Mayo serves is helping to raise money for the family by starting a GoFundMe page.
“The town, you know, welcomed us since the first day. It was so warming. I have no words to explain that,” Rosario says.
Arturo may be gone, but the legacy of his restaurant remains.