AUSTIN (KXAN) — This is a story of time and distance, and how going great lengths to serve others can come back full circle.
Cisco’s restaurant sits on the corner of East Sixth Street and Comal Street in east Austin. Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros opened the joint in 1943, which has since been passed down to son and then grandson. It’s been the go-to place for the who’s who of Austin for over 50 years. But, they’re not the only people the diner draws.
Folks from all different walks of life come, and a few of those filtered to the back of the restaurant as our KXAN crew entered to meet with them Thursday morning.
Those walks of life unite as the self-proclaimed “PolitiMigas” every Thursday to eat breakfast.
They’re creatures of habit and tradition. The breakfast gang eats at the same tables each time and those tables sit under the same walls adorned with newspaper clippings and pictures of celebrities and politicians. Ever heard of Walter Cronkite or Lyndon B. Johnson? Yeah, they’ve eaten there.
But Thursday, December 12, 2019 was different in terms of decorations. A “thank you” message hugged the wall across from the group. Stickers clung to the gang’s sweaters and jackets saying “I love Lydia!” But who is Lydia?
Her full name is Lydia Guerrero. She has worked at Cisco’s for over 30 years since the age of 28. Over that period of time, she’s served the Thursday breakfast club every week. She considers them all friends.
“Lots of good people, nice people. My customers are my heart,” Guerrero said as she held her hands over her chest with a smile.
PolitiMigas caught her off guard with thanking her.
“I got surprised! I know nothing about this,” Guerrero laughed. “Every year they give me a Christmas gift, gift card and now this party.”
She’s grateful for the admiration.
“Thank you, thank you for everything. Thank you for taking care of me,” Guerrero said.
For weeks, months, years, Lydia has served us… We just wanted to say, ‘Thank you, Lydia.’Julian Read
One of those friends is Julian Read. He’s been coming to Cisco’s since 1962. He sits in the corner at the same table bearing his name. Next to him on the wall is an old picture of himself.
“If you look at some of these pictures of the political campaigns I did,” Read said pointing to the wall. “I love them. It’s something you always take a lot of pride in. And there’s been so many memories made here … This landmark is embedded in memories of two or three generations.”
These are old memories that give way to new. He recently learned something interesting about Guerrero from the “unofficial host” of the gang, Gardner Selby: Guerrero travels far for Christmas to serve another group.
Navidad en Mexico
Guerrero drives more than 600 miles on a roughly 16-hour trip to the town of Rancho Nuevo, San Luis Potosi, Mexico every year. She does more than serve food.
“I buy some gifts for people in Mexico,” Guerrero said. “People need to have toys … I make some bags with candy and put some toys inside. 400 bags for 400 kids,” Guerrero said.
The 400 children anxiously await her return to the small town where her sister lives. For her, the smiles justify the miles.
Poor kids don’t have any money for toys. I feel blessed because a lot of people in Mexico, you never got gifts … The little kids’ faces when you give them one toy, they just laugh and their smile. Beautiful faces.Lydia Guerrero
The breakfast crew chips in, too. They donate toys and gather money to give to Guerrero on her journey.
“It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling and we wanted to be a part of that,” Read said.
Guerrero said she “doesn’t have too much money” but tries to buy gifts with whatever she has. It’s a generous gesture that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“That’s what this is all about,” Read said. “We just love her … We wanted to give her a send-off to show our appreciation for all she’s done over these years.”
Coming full circle
Guerrero has played the role of Santa for over 20 years — a selfless surprise that has also brought home a gift of its own.
Cisco’s employs someone who Guerrero knows. His name is Elmer Cordero. He’s much older now since living in Rancho Nuevo. He’s one of the children Guerrero gave a gift to in the past.
He is about to graduate from Texas State University. Guerrero cherishes the family and friends that surround her daily at Cisco’s. For her, Christmas isn’t a holiday. It’s every day, and she can’t thank the breakfast gang enough.
“Thank you Gardner, thank you Nancy and Mr. William and all of these guys … I love this restaurant because I know a lot of customers for a long time,” Guerrero expressed. “It makes my day.”
Her next trip to Mexico is Thursday, Dec. 19. She leaves after her shift at Cisco’s. You can bet PolitiMigas will be there to see her out.