The family-run Gold Rush Cafe in the Dallas Lakewood neighborhood is temporarily closed as his children mourn the loss of the generous man who opened it nearly 40 years ago.
Virgil Sanchez died Thursday at the age of 87 after a battle with cancer.
Looking over photos Monday, daughter Liz Birdwell and youngest son Mark Sanchez remembered how their father made homeless people feel as welcome at the back door as the paying customers in the front.
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“And there was one time, I was a little agitated and I didn’t want anybody taking advantage of my Dad, so I said, ‘Dad, you know, give them a ham sandwich.’ He said ‘Lizzie, you’re not giving them a ham sandwich. When they come, you give them a menu and let them get whatever they want,’” his daughter said.
Some business people might be worried about saving every penny, but Mark Sanchez said that was not their father’s way.
“Dad said 'don’t worry about that. The more you give out, the more will come back,'” Mark Sanchez said.
Virgil Sanchez started the Gold Rush Café at 1913 Skillman near Live Oak in 1980, turning what had been a donut shop into a popular breakfast and lunch restaurant. He served in the military in the Korean War.
The cafe is an institution in the established Lakewood neighborhood at a time when chain restaurants and fast food are all you can find in many newer neighborhoods.
Mark Sanchez said the five Sanchez siblings plan to reopen the business sometime after Wednesday’s funeral.
“It is kind of his legacy and now that he lives in me, I want to take it as far as I can, you know,” Mark Sanchez said.
His children expect loyal customers may attend the funeral for Virgil Sanchez, planned at noon Wednesday at the Calvary Hill Funeral Home, 3235 Lombardy Lane in Dallas.