Juan Barron moved to Tyler in 1977, followed by his wife Prisca in 1982.
Barron started selling chicken tacos during soccer games at Lindsey Park while working for a meat packing plant. His wife dreamed of owning a restaurant and wanted all of her sons to work in the family business.
On April 10, 1997, the family owned Don Juan Mexican Restaurant, at 1313 E. Erwin St. In November 2002, the family opened Don Juan on the Square, and in May 2010, DJ Mariscos, a Mexican seafood restaurant, opened on East Erwin Street.
The family business now has 75 employees, including three generations — five sons, three daughters and many grandchildren.
On Thursday, Mrs. Barron will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen at a Naturalization Ceremony in Tyler, Shannon Dacus, Hispanic Business Alliance Advisory Board member, said while presenting the award.
“This is the best of the best in our Hispanic businesses,” Ms. Dacus said of the awards.
There were 25 nominations for six categories and the recipients were announced at the luncheon. She said a new award was created this year to honor a local nonprofit organization that has significantly impacted the Hispanic community.
The Hispanic Business Alliance was formed when a group of community members got together with the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce with a goal to assist and promote growth of Hispanic businesses, Michael Lujan, chairman of Hispanic Business Alliance, said.
“I'm very proud of what's been going on with our community,” he said.
Pedro Aparacio, owner of Full Out Athletics, received the award.
Aparacio started gymnastics at 17 and cheered in college, making a name for himself across Texas and the Midwest. He coached in The Woodlands and at two gyms in Indiana before returning to his hometown of Tyler. He opened Full Out Athletics in August 2010, and has since grown the business to include five instructors and more than 100 students, two of which have been awarded college scholarships.
Lucio came to Tyler from Mexico in 1983 when he was 16. Within a matter of weeks, he was performing odd jobs at Allen's Shoe Repair and Western Store on Front Street. He spent seven years learning the shoe repair craft and another seven working maintenance and events prep for The University of Texas at Tyler. He took English language courses at night, earned his Graduate Equivalency Degree and went on to study business for a year at Tyler Junior College. In 1998, Lucio bought a shoe repair business, at 519 S. Beckham Ave., and renamed it Beckham Boots & Shoe Repair.
The elder Hernandez moved to Tyler in 1973 and worked for a contractor before opening a small construction business in 1985. In 2002, his son joined him in the business, which does commercial and industrial construction projects in Texas and Louisiana. Their largest job last year was a $1.6 million project.
Ms. Meeks was born in Mexico and moved to Dallas in 1983. She moved to Tyler and began interpreting at Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals & Clinics. She started her own business, offering translating and interpreting services to local, state and federal courts, and recently opened a second location in Athens.
Urbina was born in Chicago and moved to Tyler, where he took paralegal courses at Tyler Junior College. In 2001, he went to work for the Hispanic American Association, helping with immigration issues and helping people apply for U.S. citizenship. He also works as a court interpreter.
Ninos de Promesa teaches 3- and 4-year-old Spanish-speaking children English so they can enter into mainstream public schools. It was started by First Baptist Church and is part of Buckner Children and Family Services. There have been 328 students graduate from the program, which also offers English as a Second Language classes to students' parents.
Price Arredondo, director of the Hispanic Business Alliance, said about 400 people attended the awards luncheon at Green Acres Baptist Church Crosswalk Conference Center.
Sponsors included Super 1 Foods-Brookshires; Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals & Clinics; Merrill Lynch; Meads Wealth Management; Suddenlink; Mentoring Minds; First Alternative Fuel Inc.; Sherwin Williams; John Soules Foods; John Merrill State Farm; and Fourth Partner Foundation.