By CBSLA Staff

SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) — Rafael “Ray” Vega, the founder of the iconic Casa Vega restaurant in Sherman Oaks, has passed away, the restaurant announced.

The restaurant confirmed the news in a Facebook post on Sunday saying, “It breaks our heart to announce the passing of our founder, Rafael “Ray” Vega. He passed away peacefully yesterday.”

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“Ray’s parents immigrated with him from Tijuana with dreams of owning a restaurant in LA. He grew up at his parent’s restaurant on Olvera Street in DTLA. Ray started Casa Vega when he was a 22 years old – a young Mexican kid with an amazingly magnetic zest for life,” the restaurant said.

According to the family, the business took Vega to Las Vegas where he started many successful businesses in Nevada and California.

“But his heart was always at Casa Vega,” they said.

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Once he retired, Vega moved back to his home town of Los Angeles and was a daily fixture at Casa Vega for decades, the restaurant said.

“He greeted everyone with a smile, a hug and maybe a chili pepper pen, if you were lucky, Ray graced the tables to make sure everyone was happy. He bought you that drink on your birthday and was always the first to get up to dance at a party. He loved making sure everyone was comfortable and having a good time. Ray loved his employees. He felt we are all family,” the restaurant said.

Ray is survived by his wife Charleen and children Kelly, Robbie and Christina.

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“The Vega Family will continue to carry on his legacy,” they said.