Paso del Norte Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gonzalo Rangel was born in El Paso, Texas on January 12, 1936. His father Sergio Rangel was a mechanic who owned Nick’s Garage and his mother Sabrina Rangel was a homemaker. Gonzalo attended school at San Jacinto, Dudley, Mesita and El Paso High School. Gonzalo began working at the age of 13 and is the owner of a Mexican cuisine restaurant, G&R in El Paso, Texas. Gonzalo has three children, Bonnie Rangel, Patricia Rangel-Robinson and Nick Rangel.
Summary of Interview
Gonzalo began working at the age of 13 in a parking lot off of Wyoming St. in El Paso, Texas. The parking lot was owned by Bud Fischer and Gonzalo would park cars and clean them to earn money. By the time he was 15 years old, Gonzalo was able to purchase a 1938 Chevrolet. During high school, Gonzalo and his girlfriend had a baby and got married and Gonzalo left school to work to support his family. He briefly worked at Sanker Plumbing before leaving to work at Bray's Washing Machine to support his new family. Though his father owned a mechanic shop, Gonzalo did not have the chance to work there and instead worked with his brother at a foreign car shop called John Bull Motors. Gonzalo worked there for a time and then left to work on foreign cars at this father’s mechanic shop. Opportunities began to arise for Gonzalo when his father gave him full responsibility of a parking lot. Gonzalo was able to charge for parking and he washed cars there as well, making a lot of money in the process. Gonzalo was able to acquire a second parking lot. After 17 years, he had lost a parking lot and the opportunity to purchase a restaurant happened. Gonzalo would have coffee at a restaurant called Nacho’s that served Mexican cuisine and would often talked with the owner, Ignacio (Nacho) Varagon. At the time when Gonzalo lost one of the parking lots, Nacho offered to sell Nacho’s for $1500 to Gonzalo. Nacho stayed on to help Gonzalo learn the restaurant business and Gonzalo hired Jesusita Morales to cook for his restaurant, a professional relationship that lasted over 30 years. Gonzalo moved his restaurant from Myrtle Street to Nevada Street between 1976 and 1977 and renamed the restaurant G&R. During the 1980’s Gonzalo and his wife Irene divorced. In 1987, after much success with G&R, Gonzalo opened a second location on the eastside of El Paso. Two of Gonzalo’s three children help run his restaurants; Patricia runs the restaurant on Nevada and Nick runs the restaurant on the eastside. Although Gonzalo has had much success as a business man without a high school diploma, he advises young entrepreneurs to get an education and to be prepared for long work days and hard work.
Date of Interview
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GMR Transcription Services
Interview with Gonzalo Rangel by Edmundo Valencia, 2010, "Interview no. 1480," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.