(Amador County Ledger Dispatch original article here - September 23, 2011)

Amador County Chamber of Commerce celebrates Martha Perez

By Claudia Lamar

One year after being named Business Person of the Year by the Amador County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, owner of Jose’s Mexican Restaurant Martha Perez will finally get her party.

With last year’s celebration postponed due to restructuring of the board and construction at Jackson Rancheria, the newly re-formed chamber of commerce will honor Perez in a catered event to be held at the casino Oct. 21.

Perez, who opened Jose’s in 1983, has 42 years of restaurant experience, and has done everything, from cleaning and cooking to serving and managing. The restaurant — completely redesigned by Perez, with before-and-after pictures on display inside the front doors — offers dining guests an authentic Mexican ambiance, as well as cuisine created by Perez’s ex-husband and one of the restaurant’s original owner’s, Jose Perez.

To this day, Perez still remembers the first time she visited Amador County to see the building that would later become her restaurant, and the feeling she got when she drove past Argonaut Lane and over the hill into Jackson.

“There was something that overtook me,” she said, “and I told Jose, ‘Jose, I don’t know if we’ll buy the restaurant here, but I think this is where we’re going to stay.’ I love this place.”

While they are no longer married, Martha and Jose are still great friends and after spending half of her career by his side as his business partner, Perez remains grateful for their relationship.

“He’s a good man. He taught me everything he knew about cooking,” she said. “We were a team for 25 years, and then we opened the restaurant together and I kept it going because I believed that this was a good thing.”

Now managed by Perez’s daughter, Raquel, and, at different points in time, staffed by a family member of Perez, Jose’s Mexican Restaurant was and will continue to be a family restaurant both in its ambiance and its business ethics.

“I have a liquor license, but I don’t advertise it, because I don’t want people to think that it’s a bar,” Perez said. “I know that’s very attractive to a lot of people and I could make a lot of money, but that’s not my dream. I have a liquor license for my customers to enjoy a drink with their meal — this is a family restaurant.”

Perez has not only made a name for herself as a local business owner, but she has also become a Hispanic leader in the community, having spent her free time over the years serving as a board member for Sutter Amador Hospital, Sports for the World Children, and Jackson Business and Community Association, as well as volunteering as a translator for local hospitals, courts and schools.

“I don’t like to brag about things, because, when you do something, you do it for your love of the people,” said Perez. “You don’t do it because you’re going to be honored for it someday. I believe that all of us should be honored — everybody that has been in business these last few years. It’s been very rough. All of us have been through a lot, and I’m proud that I’m still here. I love my community, and I’ll do anything that I can to keep this community going.”

The long-awaited celebration for Perez will be held Oct. 21 at Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel Conference Center. Tickets to the catered event will be available through the Amador County Chamber of Commerce, and there will be a raffle held to benefit Sports for the World Children. For more information, call 223-0350.

The Amador County Chamber of Commerce has served the community for more than 80 years and focuses on encouraging and promoting business development and tourism to Amador County. For more information about the chamber, visit www.amadorcountychamber.com.

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