Family continues through COVID with torta and rock music

The following article was originally written in November 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first thing guests hear upon entering Alexander: the world-famous tortas is the jingle of the old shopkeeper’s bell.

The second is music.

Located at 937 East Rosecrans Ave in Compton, Alexander’s is a rock-and-roll torta joint.

Diners can expect to hear rock radio pioneers like The Beatles, The War, Blondie, and The Ramones.

Posters, framed photos, and album covers adorn the walls throughout the dining area.

A framed picture of the KISS band sits above the KISS dining table at Alexanders World Famous Tortas, and the drumsticks above the frame are said to be not from the old KISS show. The photo was taken on November 4, 2021 (Delfino Camacho | Union)

On Tuesdays, the outside patio becomes a stage where local bands perform.

There’s no shortage of things to look at, from Debbie Harry flopping on camera to a picture of Hermann and Lily Monster.

Next to the pick-up counter, a painting displays the Mexican superhero comic “El Chapolin Colorado.”

Alexander: The world-famous tortas are the brainchild of co-owners Omar “Alexander” Hernandez and Angelina Rodriguez, a couple who first met in 2008.

With a focus on rock ‘n’ roll, family, and quality Mexican food, Alexandre is one of a kind.

The family has worked hard since the restaurant debuted in 2013 to make their torta store a must-have for both foodies and music lovers and insist COVID-19 is just another hurdle they will overcome.

Angelina Rodriguez and Omar
Angelina Rodriguez and Omar “Alexander” Flores, co-owners of Alexandre World Famous Torta restaurant, wear face masks while filling orders in their kitchen on Friday, November 2, 2021, and the co-owners are also a married couple. (Delfino Camacho | Union)

The path that led them here first started with Flores’ father, Raul Flores.

Alexander has been open for nine years, “but my dad had this site for 20 years, it was only at that time that he made seafood [catering]Flores said.

It was during this period, before Alexander, the couple met. Of course, they met at a music show.

“A friend invited me to a show and just told me we’d be picked up,” Rodriguez said. “He was sitting in the back seat and we ended up talking all night.”

It was 2008, in 2013, Raul Flores came to his son and now daughter-in-law with a proposal.

“My dad asked me how to get more involved in the family business…At first, it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue because I didn’t feel like cooking was my desire,” Flores said, but I did introduce the whole concept of a rock ‘n’ roll theme.

The family closed its seafood catering business and started business. Raúl focused his attention on handcrafting their new restaurant menu, settling on a basic Mexican torta.

One of the world famous tart Alexander offered, this customer requested in particular
One of the world’s most popular Alexander torta on display, one customer in particular ordered the “Caprichosa torta” on Friday, November 4, 202. (Delfino Camacho | The Union)

Meanwhile, the couple focused on their restaurant theme.

“His dad said if you’re going to open it, make it your own,” Rodriguez said.

Flores, the musician himself, knew he wanted rock music to be a central theme. Besides the aesthetic, the couples organized a weekly open mic for local bands.

The hard work paid off. Their thoughtfully designed menu and open mic nights created such a buzz that they’re starting to grab attention.

“When the Los Angeles Times came into the restaurant, it really blew up for a few weeks, but the shutdown happened right after that,” Flores said.

The novel coronavirus has halted their momentum and will bring with it new challenges, but also some unexpected support.

“We had to kill our visits because we closed the door,” Flores said. We were taking orders from the window just to be safe. We didn’t really want anyone in.”

They had to close their doors, internal sales dwindled and important open mic nights were constantly interrupted.

“There was a fear of work,” Flores said. “Even right now, there are a lot of companies coming out, so we were worried about that.”

A shot of the front door and two cabin seats at the Alexanders World Famous Torta on a warm Friday, November 4, 2021. Delfino Camacho |  the Union.
A shot of the front door and two cabin seats at Alexanders World Famous Torta on a warm Friday, November 4, 2021. (Delfino Camacho | The Union)

With the loss of in-store traffic, online delivery service orders began to increase, becoming the saving grace.

The first few weeks [and] months inside [sales] It stopped completely, but that’s when our tablets exploded. Rodriguez said, “Uber, Doordash, Post-Mates, GroupHub, it’s all about delivery.

The hiatus from the open mic nights was a huge blow to Flores. In his eyes, music has always been as important as food.

“The main negative effect I felt was when we couldn’t do events indoors,” Flores said. “My father [told me] Since we own the yard, we do it outdoors, that helped but it was an odd transition.”

Now looking to the future, Flores and Rodriguez are inspiring about what happens next for Alexander and their family.

“We got closer. We got used to it, you know,” Flores said. “I guess other couples weren’t used to seeing each other all the time. But for us it was just another day, we were always really together.”

The couple have been together for a long time, and along with the fate of the restaurant, they take on new responsibilities towards their growing family.

“After two children,” Rodriguez added with a smile. “He’s 12 and he’s 5.”

While the pandemic is far from over, the couple feel confident they have weathered the worst of it. There is real pride knowing that COVID-19 cannot defeat their dreams and their families and they are eager to get back to their normal lives, while keeping their focus on family, food and music.

“Music is everything. It’s everything. Have a nice day composing a song. Having a bad day composing a song.” “Music is a big part of our life,” Rodriguez said.

The front entrance to the world famous Alexander is located at 937 East Rosecrans Ave.  In Compton on a Friday afternoon in the fall.  Photo taken on November 4, 2021. Delfino Camacho |  the Union.
The front entrance to the world famous Alexander is located at 937 East Rosecrans Ave. In Compton on a Friday afternoon in the fall. The photo was taken on November 4, 2021 (Delfino Camacho | Union)

Flores looked to his partner, both in business and in life, and they surveyed the restaurant they had built and stayed put together.

“At first we didn’t take it seriously, we were younger so we were immature. I think now that we are older we kind of see this as our children’s future,” Flores said. “We own the property now, and we work together because we love each other and love our children.”

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