Eduardo “Morado” Rodriguez has served a presidential candidate, congressmen, and even celebrities during his 27 year career in the restaurant business. Rodriguez, his family, and staff treat them just like they treat any customer who visits Morado’s #5 on 23rd street in McAllen, “like royalty.” He says it’s the secret behind the success of his business. Ten years ago Rodriguez considered retiring from the restaurant business that he built with his wife Blanca, when the opportunity to buy a restaurant on 23rd Street in McAllen presented itself. “God has a purpose for us,” Rodriguez says. But, Blanca was skeptical about expanding to a bigger building. Rodriguez says he encouraged, “Look at it this way, let’s say a few follow, and a few from the previous owner stay with us, and we make a few more customers. Then, we’ll make it!” Rodriguez considered naming the new restaurant ‘Blankita’s’ after his wife and daughter. While Blanca may have been initially skeptical about the new venture, he says she knew keeping the well-known name ‘Morado’s’ was key. He says she reminded him, “Everybody knows you as ‘Morado.” Rodriguez’ has been known as “Morado” since he was a senior at McAllen High School. He recalls the day he acquired the nickname in great detail. While walking home from school he stopped to apply for a job at a new grocery store. Rodriguez was hired on-the-spot and immediately got to work. After repeatedly forgetting his name, a manager dubbed him ‘Morado’ based on the purple shirt Rodriguez happened to be wearing that day. The name stuck. Rodriguez takes pride in serving customers looking for a hot, fresh breakfast or lunch at Morado’s #5. Customers rave about Morado’s and voters chose the restaurant in The Monitor’s Readers’ Choice Awards as ‘Favorite Breakfast’ spot. “My cooks are excellent, I give them all the credit,” Rodriguez says. He also credits his wait staff, “We live for our customers. It’s up to us to take care of them. To me it’s very important.” During his career Rodriguez has gone above and beyond serving great food to his customers, including saving the lives of not one but two women on separate occasions. He recalls the time a woman visiting from Monterrey, Mexico started choking. He jumped into action, applying C.P.R. training he’d received before going into the restaurant business, and dislodged the chip stuck in her throat. She later returned with her son, he says, and both thanked him for saving her life. Rodriguez also recalls the time presidential candidate, George H. W. Bush visited his downtown location and ordered a diet coke. Rodriguez pulled out all the stops and served up a meal for the candidate and his entourage. When Bush asked if he could bother him for a soda refill Rodriguez says he told him it was no bother, but in exchange to remember him when he gets to the White House. Rodriguez says, “Sure enough, he sent me an invite for his inaugural address!” The Rodriguez family has since closed Morado’s restaurants #1 through #4. Today they are dedicated to the success of #5 by continuing to offer fresh, hot food and great customer service. “I try to go and sit down with them, greet them and make them feel at home,” he shares. My wife does the same thing. They love my wife. She’s got this something, like given from God, that’s so sweet with the people, generous and kind.” As Rodriguez shares stories of his restaurant career spanning nearly 30 years, he often reflects back to his humble beginnings and now, to winning a Readers’ Choice Award for the third consecutive year, “Well, to me, it means the world, because I only have a high school diploma.” He also says while running a popular restaurant is hard work, it’s the simple things about the business; greeting the customers, working with his beloved wife and daughter, and loyal staff - some of whom have been with him for decades - that make it all worthwhile. And, he says that together, “We just try our best.”
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