AUSTIN (KXAN) — The longtime owner and founder of an Austin staple has died.

Consuelo “Connie” Rodriguez passed away on Valentine’s Day Eve after a battle with cancer, her family said.

For more than a decade, the restaurant “La Cocina de Consuelo” on Burnet Road has been a community favorite.

It’s a small, family-run business. Rodriguez opened the restaurant in 2006, creating what would become a lasting legacy for her family.

Now it’s with heavy hearts that they work to make their Consuelo proud.

  • Consuelo "Connie" Rodriguez, in her younger years before founding "La Cocina de Consuelo" (Photo: Priscilla Gilbert).
  • La Cocina de Consuelo on Burnet Road. (KXAN photos/Jala Washington)
  • Consuelo cooking at the restaurant. (Photo: Priscilla Gilbert)

“We had a little family gathering Sunday after the funeral, and it was so hard because normally, she was the one that would do everything,” Priscilla Gilbert, Rodriguez’s daughter, said.

She held her family to high standards to make the restaurant a place like no other.

“When she cooked, she healed people,” Gilbert said.

She valued customer service, good food and simply giving her customers a safe place that feels like home.

“This place, she loved a lot,” Leticia Garcia, Rodriguez’s niece, said. “She would be here at five in the morning until nine at night.”

You could say Rodriguez was like the heartbeat of her family. They said her strong faith and mission to serve God through her service kept her going.

“She always knew that she would come to this country and make a better life,” Gilbert said. “And she thought about all of us.”

  • Consuelo Rodriguez and family
  • Consuelo Rodriguez and family
  • Consuelo Rodriguez and family

Gilbert said her mom came to the States from Mexico when she was about 14 years old. Starting off as a house keeper, eventually she started making and selling home-cooked meals to wealthy families she worked for, her daughter said.

At first, Gilbert said she was trying to fundraise for her church. Later, Rodriguez realized she could do more, so she saved her money until she had enough to open La Cocina de Consuelo.

“She started the business at 63 years old,” Gilbert said. “She instilled hope in people. Hope that you could achieve your dreams, that you could take care of your family.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s wife, Cecilia Abbott, is also a longtime customer of La Cocina De Consuelo.

For some longtime customers, the love they feel inside the restaurant has kept them coming back over the years.

“One of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Cody Jordan said. “Her legacy is going to carry on for many, many years.”

Though her family might not know all her secrets, Rodriguez lives through them and so will her kitchen.

“We’re all going to have to kind of converge together to figure out some of her recipes,” Gilbert said with a smile. “Always pushing.”

Rodriguez has catered countless events around Austin over the years, according to her family. She’s survived by her husband and four children. She was 80 years old.