High-end Galveston restaurateur began his 'dream' as dishwasher

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
'Rudy & Paco' owner began 'American dream' as dishwasher
Nick Natario meets the owner of Rudy & Paco in Galveston for HTX+.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The American dream continues to pay off for one Galveston restaurant owner.

Francisco "Paco" Vargas is proud of what he's accomplished.

"Twenty-three years," Vargas recalled. "I am delighted and happy that the restaurant took off."

Rudy & Paco Restaurant and Bar is a staple on the island offering South American cuisine, located just off The Strand. It's a delicacy enjoyed by many celebrities.

This was a dream Vargas had when he moved from Nicaragua more than 40 years ago. "I started working in Houston, washing dishes and mopping floors," Vargas recalled.

He moved to Galveston to manage the Balinese Room, a restaurant only marked with a sign after it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike.

Before it was ruined, Vargas says the restaurant taught him how to open his own place.

"The American dream is when you work hard it pays off," Vargas said. "That's what I did myself here, and Galveston opened the door for me."

Galveston is an island that continues to open the door for Vargas' family. Across the street is the new restaurant Vargas Cut and Catch, which is filled with different photos on the wall.

"This was Denise when she was a baby," Vargas pointed out. "This was Juan when he was a baby, and all three together here."

Vargas' kids run this American cuisine restaurant, a place that got a boost thanks to friend.

When banks wouldn't lend a loan, a friend co-signed. Because of this, Vargas dedicated a room in the restaurant to him.

"Thank God," Vargas said. "Mr. Peters is a great man with a big heart."

Thanks to his friend, Vargas' fairy tale American dream continues in Galveston, a success story he says isn't about fortune, and fame, but finding a place that opens its doors for you.

"Be dedicated, and work hard," Vargas said. "That's what you need."

Vargas' successful American dream story isn't only known in Galveston.

He recently received recognition from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Vargas was given the Diversity American Dream Award.

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