Puerto Alegre Patriarch Ildefonso Vigil Dies

Vigil founded the popular Valencia Street restaurant way back in 1968 — and it's still run by his children today.

The 89-year-old founder of one of Valencia Street’s longest-standing businesses has died. Ildefonso Vigil bought 546 Valencia St. in 1968, moved his family in upstairs, and launched his restaurant Puerto Alegre on the bottom floor. Vigil raised his children working in the restaurant from a young age, and today all four of them — Amparo, Lorenzo, Willy, and Patricia — still run the popular spot, which is famous for its strong pitchers of margaritas and massive enchilada plates. Far more than just a restaurant, it’s evolved into a gallery featuring the work of local artists, and a strong supporter of local nonprofits and cultural events, such as Day of the Dead.

The family released a statement on Puerto Alegre’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon:

Our family is deeply saddened to inform all that our beloved father Ildefonso Vigil passed away yesterday, May 20 2019. As many of you know, Puerto Alegre, is a family business existing in the mission district for over 45 years. Our father created Puerto Alegre, and the family worked together to develop recipes and service concepts that you still enjoy today. Thank you Papá for all your love and hard work. He was a lovely man who touched so many lives with his vision, joy, and generosity. Hasta siempre Papá. 

Luckily, the future of the restaurant appears to be secure, evidenced in part by the long lines spilling onto the sidewalk on Saturday afternoons. And now, another generation is getting involved. “My niece Cecilia is 18 and helps out on the weekends hosting and serving, and another niece, Elizabeth, helps in the office,” Amparo told El Restaurante last year. “My grandson DeAndre Gonzalez is helping me right now. Everyone comes and helps at different times. Now my siblings and I are exploring what will come next.”

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