EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The founder of King Taco, one of Los Angeles’ original Mexican restaurant chains, has died at 71.

Raul Martinez Sr. passed away in Mexico City late Tuesday night.

Martinez’s son, Raul Jr., said his father was visiting family and doctors for ongoing health problems.

In his memory, 20 King Taco locations were closed Wednesday evening.

“He left a legacy. He never held back, he helped anybody that crossed his path,” Raul Jr. said.

Raul Jr. said before King Taco became a success, his father’s tacos were made on a truck.

“He saw an ice cream truck that was being sold, he looked at it and said, ‘You know what? I think I can make this happen,’” he said.

King Taco’s flavor and choice of meats became an instant hit.

“When you had a small influx of Mexicans in Los Angeles, when they started seeing a lot of these tacos that they had missed from Mexico, they got really excited,” Raul Jr. said.

To honor his father, Raul Jr. chose to have a sushi dinner with cousins, a meal he said his father turned him onto 25 years ago and loved as much as tacos.

“I never got a chance to bring him here, and I figured I do this for him tonight, and you know he’s watching up there in heaven, and dad, this one’s for you,” Raul Jr. said.


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