Now that he’s out of the hospital and back at home, Ruben Acosta has another difficult hurdle to face: returning to the Delano restaurant where he was shot twice during an armed robbery more than six weeks ago.
It might happen this week, though he’s not sure.
“I think I’ll stay in the parking lot and see how I feel,” he said. “If I feel okay, I can open the door. I gotta face it. I gotta face what happened. I need to be strong.”
Acosta, the owner of Ruben’s Mexican Grill at 915 W. Douglas, was released from the hospital on Wednesday. He’d been there since June 9, a Friday, when a robber walked into the restaurant and demanded money while an employee was taking the trash out. The robber fired his gun, which hit Acosta, 58, twice. Acosta, who had a gun, returned fire.
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In the weeks following, Acosta had at least six surgeries. His wife, Anita, reopened the restaurant after a week – and after friends and family members repaired bullet-hole damaged drywall. Ever since, relatives have been filling in for Acosta, who has always been a fixture at the restaurant he opened more than 20 years ago.
Doctors tell Acosta, who needs a walker to get around, that he might be able to return to work, but it will be a while. When he does return, he won’t be able to do everything he used to do.
“They say I can’t be in the kitchen,” Acosta said. “It’s too hot.”
Acosta said he remembers everything from the night of the robbery but he does not like to talk about it. He did say he’s glad that his actions at least got a criminal off the streets.
Reginald Kane, 26, was caught by police shortly after the robbery, and after a stay in the hospital, was booked into jail. He’s now charged with attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault with a handgun, and criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon
He’s still in jail awaiting a preliminary hearing, which is set for Aug. 17.
Acosta’s granddaughter, Jessica Demieville, said her grandfather is in a lot of pain and has months of physical therapy ahead of him. If he’s disciplined about it, she said, he could be back to work in six months or so.
“He does want to get back to the restaurant,” she said. “He knows what he needs to do,”
Acosta said he wanted to thank his customers, who have continued patronizing his restaurant since the shooting and who attended several fundraisers put on by neighboring restaurants to help raise money for him.
“Thanks to everyone who supported me,” he said. “I really appreciate it. I’m glad to be home. I’m happy to be with my family. It’s wonderful.”