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Ron Salisbury Builds on His Family’s History

Ron Salisbury has broken new ground for his family’s 100-year-old restaurant business, El Cholo Restaurants, since his selection last year for dual Business Journal honors, Restaurateur of the Year and the Family-Owned Business longevity award for what is widely regarded as LA’s oldest Mexican restaurant.

Salisbury, this year’s Family-Owned Business Awards keynote speaker on May 30, has since expanded El Cholo outside of California and ramped up his company’s charitable giving.

He opened late last year the first out-of-state branch of El Cholo, in Utah, in a 9,000-square-foot space in the Sugar House region of Salt Lake City, into which Salisbury, a 1950s alum of Brigham Young University, had seen many Californians move, believing the transplants had an emotional connection to the El Cholo name.

“We put it right back in their backyard,” he said.

To be sure, there’s risk, given that Salt Lake residents dine out less often than Californians, Salisbury said.

“It’s a bit of a challenge, but we’re up and running,” he said.

Salisbury’s grandparents, Alejandro and Rosa Borquez, opened El Cholo’s flagship location, originally called the Sonoro Café, in Downtown Los Angeles in 1923. His parents, Aurelia and George Salisbury, later opened a second location of El Cholo on Western Avenue.

Salisbury later opened El Cholo’s first branch outside of LA, in La Habra in 1962.

El Cholo now has six locations in California.

Along the way, Salisbury acquired two fine-dining restaurants in Newport Beach, The Cannery and Louie’s by the Bay.

All are managed by his Restaurant Business Inc., headquartered in La Habra.

“I view our restaurants as a continuation of education for people who want to play a role with us for the next 100 years,” he said.

At the same time, Salisbury’s been extending the family’s legacy to those beyond
his restaurants.

In the last year, he’s ramped up the company’s philanthropy, having fundraised $1 million for pediatric cancer research. He said the company intends to support a different nonprofit each year.

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