71 years is a long time, and 1946 is a very long time ago. To put into few words, it’s the year Yogi Berra began his baseball career and just a year after the end of World War II.
In 1935, Richard Camacho purchased land at 796 West Wahl Road, the former site of New River Church and School, which had burned to the ground in the mid-1920s. He used scrap materials such as broken chunks of concrete, automobile frames, railroad ties, and the doors from a former El Centro railroad station to construct what would eventually become Camacho’s Place & Café. Richard even built the window frames himself which remain part of the structure to this day, complete with steel bars between two plates of glass that stretch from floor to ceiling.
On December 12th 1946, Camacho's Place & Café was officially opened for business with a dedication made to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Richard’s wife, Juanita, would wake at 5am to cook some of our first meals on a Martha Washington wood burning stove, using the recipes her mother had taught her. Initially, it was the braceros she cooked for. Richard delivered Juanita’s food to various fields (or trees, depending on location), on behalf of farmers who ordered food for their workers throughout El Centro and the surrounding agricultural areas. Slowly the menu expanded, and the braceros nearby would come in after work for a burrito, taco, or enchilada and play pool on our pool tables. If a cold drink was in order, they'd sit on the orange crates lined up at the bar. Once a week, a barber would set up shop in Camacho’s and offer the braceros haircuts, and on weekends, live bands would fill the room with music. Richard and Juanita embraced the surrounding community with their food and services, and the community embraced them in return. Eventually, the farmers who purchased food for their workers began to bring in their families and friends, and in order to accommodate them, Richard expanded the main dining room to what Camacho's is today.
We still consider ourselves the same Camacho’s Place we’ve been since we opened our doors over seven decades ago: Rosie (Richard and Juanita's granddaughter) still preps the food and she (now along with her husband Tommy) continues to serve the food. When Richard and Juanita Camacho opened on December 12, 1946, we’re not sure that they ever imagined that 71 years later, their doors would still be open 5 days a week, for over 3,600 weeks. (We're not sure if they imagined that their neighbors to the north, south, west, and east would still be agricultural fields, either.)
After Richard and Juanita passed, it was Marie and her husband Edward who continued operations, and after Marie and Edward passed, it was Rosie and Tommy who took over and continue to operate Camacho's Place to this day. Throughout the years, the offers to purchase Camacho’s Place came and went and not once did we ever consider selling because of one thing: the food would never be the same.
We take great pride in every single item we serve, from our humble carne asada burrito to our labor intensive, hand-crimped special quesadillas and everything in between. The love, care and quality that goes into our food has never changed. Rosie still sits in the back room of our kitchen where Marie and Juanita once did, cleaning carne asada daily and rolling taquitos every week, continuing the Camacho's legacy and upholding what has been and continues to be our motto after all these years: We're hard to find, but we're worth it.
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