AUSTIN (KXAN) - Janie Martinez, the co-founder of Matt's El Rancho has died after a well-lived 90 years.
According to her obituary, Martinez was hospitalized two weeks ago after doctors found water in her lungs.
Among Austin eateries there are many Tex-Mex varieties to choose from. Matt's El Racho in South Austin is a staple, it's also a window into the Capital City's past.
Janie grew up during the Great Depression in northern Travis County. That's when she learned to cook, helping her widowed mother in the kitchen and with her siblings.
The restaurant, originally El Rancho, was opened by Janie and her husband Matt in 1952 at a rental house at 302 E. First St. The restaurant eventually moved to their current location on South Lamar which still cooks up Janie's recipes today.
The restaurant has been around for a long time and is considered an Austin icon. KXAN News asked General Manager Ken Hatten, who's worked for the Martinez family for 11-years, how the restaurant has survived all this time.
"I think we do a great job building relationships with the community and our staff. They [Matt and Janie] taught me to be the same way. It keeps us [Matt's El Rancho] going and relevant," Hatten said.
When asked how the family is dealing with the loss Hatten said, "Obviously very hard, I feel very fortunate to have known her. They're such a wonderful family. They have such great values and ethics. I have two kids of my own and I can only hope to do as well."
In 1960 the Texas Department of Public Safety distributed a video titled "Target Austin" during a time when fears of nuclear strikes were a reality for Americans.
The 20-minute film, a training tool in the event of nuclear strikes, highlighted several iconic Austin locations, including an interview with Matt's El Rancho owner Matt Martinez. Cactus Pryor narrated the video.
"I feel very fortunate I know them as well as I do, they're a great family," Hatten said.
Janie would have celebrated her 91st birthday on July 2nd. She died with family at her side.
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