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PHOTO GALLERY — Take a look inside Port Arthur’s 3-venues-in-1 restaurant, nightspot & taqueria

Luis Ceja and his siblings worked in a plaza called El Garibaldi in California 21 years ago. There, they developed the concept of a bar, restaurant and a 24-hour taqueria.

“My oldest brother was a cook, my sister was a cashier and I was a dishwasher,” he said. “Our dream was to open something similar with the same concept.”

That dream is now a reality

Ceja said he hopes to open El Garibaldi Restaurant, Antro Bar and the 24-hour Taqueria Friday on Jimmy Johnson Boulevard in front of the Babe Zaharias Golf Course.

A taqueria is generally a taco stand, food stall or small restaurant. Ceja’s taqueria has plenty of comfortable seating and a drive-thru option.

Other ownership membership members include Elizabeth Ceja-Gracian and Eduardo Gracian.

The Restaurant El Garibaldi will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Antro Bar will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the Taqueria will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ceja and his siblings started with a taco trailer in California at The Garibaldi Plaza. They stayed for a year and then tried their luck in Arizona with another taco trailer.

Ceja’s oldest brother eventually opened 22 Salsitas restaurants in Arizona. Currently he operates 16 because he sold a few.

“I worked for him as a manager and I wanted to try my own luck, so I decided to travel to Texas, and that is when I opened La Salsitas on Gulfway 11 years ago,” he said.

When Salsitas opened in Port Arthur, the first six months were tough. There were times when Ceja could not afford to pay his employees and would have to send them home. But his clientele grew, and it has gone well ever since.

Valencia mentions his first employee, right-hand man and friend Hector De La Parra, as one of the reasons for his success at Salsitas.

“He started working for me in Arizona and he worked for me for 15 years. He is a great cook, responsible, honest and a hard worker,” he said.

Since Salsitas in Port Arthur grew , Ceja helped his older brother open Salsitas in Beaumont. After that Ceja got the opportunity to open a restaurant called Tacos El Primo on College Street in Beaumont.

“Tacos El Primo has been successful enough for us to grow and it is the reason for our new business venture of a bar and two restaurants on the Jimmy Johnson strip,” he said.

Ceja first bought the building that used to be La Hacienda. The bar and restaurants were supposed to be open already, but they noticed the building was old and needed a lot of remodeling. The decision was made to move the project to the plaza on Jimmy Johnson instead. Ceja still owns the La Hacienda property and has plans to demolish and save it for a later project.

Ceja has three daughters — ages 16, 17, and 18. They are pursuing a higher education but also are getting involved with their father’s businesses.

Ceja credits his parents for his work ethic and experience in the restaurant business.

“My parents owned taquerias in Mexico and sold tacos for 40 years,” he said.

Since he and his siblings grew up with restaurant experience in Mexico, they decided to open their own businesses in the United States.

Although Ceja is an entrepreneur and owner of several restaurants, you will almost always find him working in the kitchen and being involved in the day-to-day operations of his restaurants.

— Written by Tracy Ramirez