Small business icon Manny Lopez dies at 77

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Many Kansas Citians are still mourning the loss of a small business icon on Monday.

Small business icon Manny Lopez

Small business icon Manny Lopez

Manny Lopez, 77, owner of Manny's Restaurant on Southwest Boulevard, passed away over the weekend after battling a long illness.

Although there are now many Mexican restaurants all around the metro area, Manny's was among the first, and has become a Kansas City institution.

For years, Lopez greeted customers at the door and treated them like family.

Lopez helped launch the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and volunteered for the community by serving on the Missouri Restaurant Association and Convention and Visitors Association.

He was known as a hard-nosed business operator to succeed in a very competitive industry, an outspoken critic of efforts to raise the minimum wage, which he believed killed jobs and harmed mom-and-pop operations.

"He grew up in the hard streets of Argentine, Kanas," said David Lopez, his son.  "He did what he had to do. Nobody opened too many doors for Manny Lopez, he had to open his own doors. He loves this city because he knows it like the back of his hand. He is a true Kansas Citian. He is proud to be from Kansas City. He is proud to serve it’s people. He was so proud to have a business."

David Lopez and his sisters have been running the restaurant for the last four years now. They say they will continue treating their employees and customers like family. With Cinco de Mayo and the streetcar starting this week, it's going to be a busy time for the restaurant, and David Lopez says that would make his father happy.

A funeral for Manny Lopez is scheduled Wednesday at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Roeland Park, Kan.