We're now more than halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month, which extends from September 15th through October 15th. So, in honor of those of Hispanic heritage here in Southwest Florida, WGCU is featuring local Latinos from across the region — from all sorts of professions, genders and backgrounds.
Today, you'll hear the story of a man who's family has been running a restaurant in Immokalee for the last two decades.
I’m Danny Gonzalez. I’ve been here working at Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant for 20 years, it’s a family restaurant. My wife, me and my in-laws work here. Also I’m a part of the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce, the president for three years.
My heritage is Mexican. My parents came from Texas like in the mid-50s so my five brothers and two sisters were born in Naples, Florida. We grew up here in Immokalee but I have a lot of family in Texas. Growing up, I loved going to my grandma’s. There was always fresh tortillas, handmade. We traveled to five or six states to go pick tomatoes and I loved the cooking. I got to meet all the people that work in the fields we ate their food. The real Mexican-Mexican food. So I grew up eating spicy food, unfortunately I can’t eat it no more. Well the good thing, all my kids eat tortillas because it was around us. Every Sunday, it was always tortillas and every Saturday it always menudo. Menudo is a soup, a Mexican soup. My kids eat all that stuff.
The Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant does a lot of things for the community. We try to do anything in an emergency. Last year the Hurricane Irma hit us, we were open in five days and we took care of our community assisting people.
The Hispanic heritage, for me, it means a lot knowing my roots, where you know, everybody comes. Especially us our roots are from Mexico. Unfortunately we don’t know anybody in Mexico but it tells us something that you can be from any country and represent. I don’t represent Mexico, I represent the Hispanic. We call it Hispanic because there is so many cultures here. We’ve met so many people that work the field and are from those Central American countries so we represent them too. And maybe the language is different uh, maybe my Spanish is not good at all ‘cus I was born and raised here but I speak the Spanish when I need to I do speak it.
Being 20 years here it’s a good thing, not many businesses last that long especially in the restaurant business. We been through some good times and some bad times but here, a small town, in a small town you get to know everybody.
Being a Hispanic, it’s kinda hard but I done the farming, I’ve done the picking of tomatoes believe me just because you’re a farm worker doesn’t mean you can’t do what you wanna do in life. You gotta jump a couple of hurdles to move on in life. But I am proud of what I done. I have three grown kids I’ve been married 22 years with my wife. We are blessed with what we have because we work hard hopefully my kids carry that to the next level but I’m proud of where I come from. Really proud of what my parents have done, showing us how to work hard.