BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In Hispanic communities, food represents love and family.

That love shines bright inside Baton Rouge’s oldest Mexican restaurant.

“The pay is very little — but it’s alright,” jokes Severo Urdiales. He is the founder of El Rio Grande.

At 91-years-old, Urdiales, who is affectionally referred to as ‘Mr. Joe,’ still cracks jokes and keeps everyone inside the restaurant on their toes.

The Fort Worth native’s family relocated to Lake Charles during the Great Depression, and his father opened his own restaurant, calling it El Rio.

Not wanting to work under his father and create competition, Mr. Joe opened his own Baton Rouge-based restaurant in 1962 and changed the name slightly.

“I didn’t want to use the same one, so I put El Rio Grande on account of the Mississippi River, the big river,” says Urdiales.

At first, it took a minute to get the capital region warmed up to the new place.

Urdiales says, “That first day I opened up, I saw five dollars. The second day was an improvement I saw ten dollars.”

His son Raul says, “Back in the day he might have customers that would say ‘hey, I know it’s midnight, but can you come fix us some food.’ And he did. Really? Oh, yes, he took care of his customers.”

It was 19 years ago when Raul took over El Rio Grande, and he feels the restaurant is much more than a place to work.

“I grew up in this building. We lived upstairs back in the day. It’s home for me. People come in here, my friends. It’s not just my restaurant, it’s my home,” says Raul.

As the restaurant has been around for years, one of the hardest thing for Raul is the passage of time.

“You become friends with all these people and it hurts when they pass away. Or they break up. Most of my customers have become my friends,” he says.

Mr. Joe is now retired, but anytime the restaurant needs a little help, he’s only a phone call away and a short drive from around the corner.

Mr. Joe says his secret to a long life is three things.

No smoking or drinking, and lastly don’t chase women – because they’ll wear you out.