A taco from La Guadalupana Super Market and Restaurant in Riverside, which opened in November 2018 and has an ownership connection with the El Rancho Grande Mexican restaurant chain. Gary Rodriguez, operations manager for El Rancho Grande, oversaw the supermarket opening, and he was awarded a “Restaurateur of the Year” for southern Ohio award last weekend by the Ohio Restaurant Association. MARK FISHER / STAFF PHOTO

Local Mexican chain’s president scores ‘Restaurateur of the Year’ award from Ohio Restaurant Association

The man who oversees more than a dozen Mexican restaurants in southwest Ohio was named the 2018  “Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year” for the southern part of the state on Sunday by the Ohio Restaurant Association, which said the award honors leaders who “implement innovative ideas and demonstrate passion for the industry and their community.” 

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The award went to Gary Rodriguez, president of operations for El Rancho Grande, which operates 14 restaurants throughout the Dayton-Cincinnati region. 

Rodriguez also oversaw the November 2018 opening of La Guadalupana Super Market and Restaurant, located at 5450 Burkhardt Road in the Spin-Kemp Shopping Center. The international grocery and restaurant is affiliated with El Rancho Grande. 

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In this contributed file photo from 2010, Gary Rodriguez (center, holding scissors), president of operations of El Rancho Grande, celebrates the grand opening of El Rancho Grande in Liberty Twp. with members of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance.
Photo: Contributed photo/Contributed photo

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Here’s what the Ohio Restaurant Association said about Rodriguez and why he was selected for the Restaurateur of the Year award for the southern region of Ohio:

“All of our members work hard to accomplish success in their lives and businesses, and this honoree certainly exemplifies what it means to be a part of the American Dream. Today, Gary Rodriguez is president of operations for El Rancho Grande.  His story is like many of us in the industry, who started with humble beginnings and worked their way up the ladder of success.” 

“He was born in Mexico and immigrated to Chicago in 1974. He met his wife and married her in 1981. They remained in the United States, and over the next 15 years, built their business of successful, family-oriented restaurants.” 

Gary then joined the El Rancho Grande organization, overseeing all of their 14 locations. Today, he handles everything from identifying future restaurant locations to constructing buildings. His latest endeavor is opening a Mexican grocery store in the greater Dayton area.” 

In 2017, El Rancho Grande opened a new restaurant in a former Applebee’s location on West Dorothy Lane in Kettering, and relocated a restaurant from Poe Avenue in Vandalia to Old Troy Pike in Huber Heights, in space that previously housed a LaRosa’s Pizza restaurant.

The chain also has an affiliation with the new Rancheros Cocina Mexicana that opened in late 2018 in the Cross Pointe Centre in Centerville. 

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