For many years, the 40-foot Christmas tree that rises in the parking lot of the King Taco Restaurant at 3rd Street and Ford Boulevard in East L.A. has been an ever-present part of the holidays for the community. This year the tree is up as usual. However, the tree and the Christmas lights that adorn it now also serve to honor the big and bright life of restaurant founder, Raul Martinez Sr., who died on December 3 during a trip to Mexico.
In the early years of the business, many thought Martinez could not succeed with his idea of selling tacos al pastor out of a converted ice-cream truck. He proved them so wrong, as we now know nearly forty years after the chain was founded. Mr. Martinez persevered and beat the odds, growing a successful business. In addition, he was a strong supporter of the community and a regular contributor to charitable efforts in East L.A.
So, really, the tree now also honors him as an innovator and entrepreneur. For those of us that grew up visiting King Taco for tacos al pastor or enjoyed the yearly raising of the tree, the star that tops it, like the life of Mr. Martinez, will remind us that dreams can come true.
C.J. Salgado is a resident of East L.A.