Courtesy The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Special Collections Library

Jovita de la Rosa Ortiz, third from right, and her parents Magdaleno and Francisca behind the counter of their café, Café de la Rosa, in San Antonio, circa 1945. The café was known for its gorditas and enchiladas, and we can only imagine how good they were. Jovita (1916-1994) was the only daughter of Magdaleno and Francisca. She attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, located only two blocks away from her home, and graduated from Lanier High School. The family, from Matehuala, Mexico, settled in Texas in 1922. At first, Magdaleno worked for a railway company in the Texas Panhandle. But by 1927, he had opened his own business, a soda water stand in San Antonio. Two years later, he moved to a new location at 621 South Laredo Street in Barrio Laredito, a small neighborhood just west of San Pedro Creek that existed for nearly 300 years before gentrification wiped it out in the 1970s. The family living quarters were attached to the rear of the business. Within a few years, the drink stand became Café de la Rosa, serving Mexican food.

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