Last night, I accidentally attended a birthday party for former owner of Conejitoâ€™s Place restaurant, Jose Garza. Garza -- who went by the nickname "Conejito" -- died on Oct. 7 and yesterday, he would have turned 76.
At about 7 p.m. last night, I stopped in for what I refer to as "Mexican comfort food" and margaritas and found a room full of green and red balloons. The bartender, Lala, was offering up shots of Centenario -- a high-end tequila that was Garzaâ€™s favorite. She poured one for Garza, too, and put a lit candle in the full shot glass. Then she played "Happy Birthday" on the jukebox about 10 times.
I have been a regular diner at Conejitoâ€™s since I was a kid, and I spent numerous evenings as an adult sitting at the bar with Garza, talking mostly about Milwaukee, family and food. I appreciated the chance to toast him one more time.