Ashley’s Mexican Restaurant and Canning was founded in 1931 by George Ashley. The sole investor in the business was George’s business-minded mother, Ida Ashley. Ashley’s Mexican Restaurant was considered a pioneer in the reinvention of Mexican restaurants in El Paso. The business was family run, with George’s wife and children playing a role.

Some of the dishes were made using recipes from Mr. Ashley’s mother-in-law. Mr. Ashley also started making and investing in tortillas because he was not happy with the ones available to him. He sold tortillas in the El Paso retail market, supplying over half by the late 1930s. Later, Mr. Ashley’s business began canning food. By 1953, Ashley was canning 20 Mexican food products, including enchilada sauce, Spanish rice and mashed beans.

In 1957, they opened an open-air cafe at 5700 Montana. Then they opened Winter-Garden Restaurant at 2864 Pershing in Five Points. Eventually they solely canned and freeze-dried products. Mr. Ashley ran a restaurant out of the cannery. Mr. Ashley died in 1971. Nonetheless, George Ashley saw his home-grown small operation transform into a multi-million dollar company.

Joseph Longo