A Look at Three of Coachella’s Oldest Businesses

Editor’s Note: This year marks the City of Coachella’s 70th anniversary. More than 100 years ago the area was undeveloped land in the Colorado River basin. Then in 1946, Coachella became incorporated. Fast-forward 70 years later, the City of Coachella still has a growing population of nearly 50,000 people and has flourishing businesses. As one of the oldest cities in the Eastern Coachella Valley, Coachella has changed significantly since its incorporated but the many businesses established long ago still remain prominent attractions in the city. Youth reporter Amanda Flores recently spoke to three of Coachella’s oldest businesses located on 6th street, Coachella’s ‘old town’ street.

Lopes Plumbing and Hardware

Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated
Juan Torres, owner of Lopes Plumbing and Hardware, first started working at the store when he was 14 years old. (Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated)

Lopes Plumbing and Hardware was established by Virgil Lopes in 1948. The current owner, Juan Torres, devoutly worked there since the age of 14 and took over the business in 1976. Torres said he felt the need to keep the business alive after Lopes fell ill.

“I happened to be here at the right place at right time,” said Torres.

During the recession, Torres struggled to keep the business running but through his dedication and hard work, he and his wife managed to keep open the business doors. Torres credits the growth of the city to his successful business.

Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated
Lopes Plumbing and Hardware celebrates 68 years in business in Coachella. (Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated)

“I believe in providing good customer service which has helped to develop relationships with the community. I am thankful for the people that have supported my business. It is through their loyalty that Lopes Plumbing and Hardware has remained open for the past 68 years and hopefully many more to come.”

Las Tres Conchitas Bakery

Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated
Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated

The varieties of bread and sweet smell of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla always seem to attract many customers to Las Tres Conchitas Bakery. Jorge Ceja has owned the bakery for the last eight years with his family. The first bakery in Coachella was established in 1975 and was formally known as Las Casillas Bakery. However, when Mr. Ceja took it over, he changed the name to Las Tres Conchitas.

“I always dreamed of owning my own bakery one day. I decided to keep the tradition alive and that’s when I took it over,” said Ceja.

The name “Las Tres Conchitas” was inspired by his mother-in law whose three daughters worked at the bakery. When they arrived, she would say, “Ya llegaran las tres conchitas.”

Lopes Plumbing and Hardware
Las Tres Conchitas Bakery is named after Cejas’s wife and sister-in-laws. (Image: Bryan Mendez/Coachella Unincorporated)

After 40 years of baking Mexican sweet bread and delicious cakes, Las Tres Conchitas is moving into a new and much larger building on 6th street. Ceja invested in the new property because as the city grows so does his business.

“We bake fresh bread everyday from traditional family recipes. We open early and close late. I hope that my business continues to grow with our new building” said Ceja. He hopes to open his new bakery doors this month.

Jalisco

Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated
Before expanding the restaurant space, Jalisco could only seat 15 people. Now the popular restaurant seats 75. (Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated)

Jalisco is a family owned Mexican restaurant in Coachella. One of the four owners, Jose Luis Garcia, started their business in 1980. In its beginning years, Jalisco only had a small kitchen, one cook, and a seating for fifteen. Now, Jalisco has expanded its restaurant and seats 75 people with over eight cooks working seven days a week. Garcia said he always dreamed of owning a business and decided Coachella would be a good place for him to start. He began his business in Coachella because of the Latino culture.

“I have a passion for cooking authentic Mexican food,” said Garcia.

Before expanding the restaurant space, Jalisco could only seat 15 people. Now the popular restaurant seats 75. (Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated)
Jose Luis Garcia, owner of Jalisco, said the two most popular items on the menu are birria and toratas.  (Image: Bryan Mendez/ Coachella Unincorporated)

In December 2007, Jalisco experienced a kitchen fire which resulted in the closure of the restaurant for nearly a year. Garcia said it was one of the worst times in his business. However, this setback did not prevent him from continuing his dream of cooking Mexican food for the people of Coachella. The following year, Jalisco reopened it doors with more people coming to taste the popular food. People come from all places across the Coachella Valley, and as far as Arizona, to come and eat at Jalisco. Two of the most requested items on his menu are birria and tortas.

“My biggest motivation is having generations of families come to my restaurant everyday. I am very blessed to have owned this restaurant for the past 37 years. My hope is that it continues to be fruitful and profitable.”

About the author:

AFloresAmanda Flores, 15, is a lifelong Coachella resident. She joined Coachella Unincorporated earlier this year and has already written several articles on community health and farmworker services. After high school, Amanda said she wants to study law or medicine. View Amanda‘s author page here.

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