HOUSTON – Ninfa's on Navigation first opened its doors in 1973.
Only three short years after the restaurant opened, and exactly 40 years ago Friday, Arcadia Lopez, better known as Kady, to her customers, got her Ninfa's name tag.
“It's like a diamond, that's what it is to me,” Lopez said about her original name tag that she’s kept all these years.
When you work somewhere for four decades you tend to collect a few mementos, like an original menu, matches and plenty of photos.
“I collect all those things because when I die I'm going to take those things with me,” Lopez said.
Kady first came to the U.S. from Honduras in 1966 when she was just 17 years old.
“My mom, she used to be my hero. My mom worked so hard for us. My heart tells me that I belong to another place and I'm going to look for my future to help you to help my sisters my brothers because we need to go up,” Lopez said.
Ending up in Houston, she was 27 when she made working at Ninfa's her goal.
“I came for five times and all the times they were telling me, 'No, we don't have a space for you,'” Lopez recalled.
Clearly her mom's work ethic rubbed off, and on the fifth visit, “She told me, ‘Well you're hired.’ I said ‘Ooooo, finally, thank you!’ I almost cried because I thought, ‘Thank God, finally,’” Lopez said.
The rest is history, which was celebrated Friday by the entire staff and many of her special customers.
“Believe me, 40 years, it's not easy. OK, it's not easy. It's a hard job but you've got to like it. You've got to like it and I love my job,” Lopez said.
It might have something to do with Ninfa's. Case in point: There are two other employees at the restaurant celebrating 30- and 35-year anniversaries.