Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita's Connie's Mexico Cafe celebrates 55 years of Harrison Ford-approved burritos

Movie star Harrison Ford's visit to Connie’s Mexico Cafe in the mid-2000s is still memorialized on the restaurant wall.
Movie star Harrison Ford's visit to Connie’s Mexico Cafe in the mid-2000s is still memorialized on the restaurant wall.

Wichita's oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant just keeps getting older, and that's not an easy feat for any business.

On Friday, Connie's Mexico Cafe, which was opened by Connie and Ralph Lopez in 1963, will celebrate its 55th birthday with a two-day party at the restaurant, 2227 N. Broadway.

It all starts at 1 p.m. on Friday, with a ribbon re-cutting with local and state officials and an appearance by WuShock. From 2 to 5 p.m., the restaurant will serve half-price queso, half-price fried ice cream sombreros and 12-ounce margaritas for $2.50 as well as other drink specials, Baile Folklorico Dancers appear at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, the restaurant will serve free cake all day and will repeat the food specials from 2 to 5 p.m. It also will offer a new menu of drink specials. and at 6 p.m., mariachi singer Reyna Avelar will perform.

If you're a fan of Connie's, you know that it's run today by Connie's and Ralph's daughter, Carmen Rosales, and her grown daughters, who every day still serve the burritos, tacos and other Tex-Mex specials that have guaranteed their longevity.

In honor of the restaurant's birthday, here's a timeline of Connie's storied history in Wichita.

1952: Rafael Lopez, a barber by trade, moves his wife, Connie, and small daughter Carmen from Texas to Wichita.

April 1963: The Lopezes open their restaurant on North Broadway in a space that had previously held a bar called Chata's, right next door to the current Connie's location. Their 15-year-old daughter, Carmen, is assigned the task of rolling tortilla dough for her mother to turn into burritos she'd sell for 25 cents apiece.

Early 1970s: El Patio restaurant next door moves, and the Lopezes take over the much bigger space. Connie's still operates there today.

1970: Carmen gets married and has her first daughter, Monique. Her four other children follow and are frequently found running around the restaurant.

1970s: Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter eats at Connie's.

1976: A semitrailer truck runs into Connie's, damaging it.

1982: A car hits Connie's, and the driver dies.

Mid-1980s: Carmen takes over operation of the restaurant from her parents.

1994: Rafael Lopez dies.

2002: Carmen suffers a brain aneurysm and undergoes three brain surgeries in three weeks. She completely recovers.

2004: Another driver hits Connie's with his car and dies. Carmen remodels and updates the restaurant.

Mid-2000s: Harrison Ford dines at Connie's on a big beef burrito. He poses for a photo that still hangs on the wall.

2006: Connie Lopez dies.

2013: Connie's celebrates its 50th birthday.

2017: Connie's closes for two months to repair structural problems in the kitchen.

April 2018: Connie's turns 55.

(FILE VIDEO -- JANUARY 26, 2018) A group of three men ate at more than 40 restaurants to determine the best taco in town. They chronicled their adventures in a blog and on Facebook.

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