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Longtime Lodi Restaurant Owner Remembered After Passing From COVID-19

LODI (CBS13) — Job Sanchez opened Casa Mexicana nearly 22 years ago with his wife in Lodi. He was a man with a big smile, loyalty to his family and a love for anyone who came into their family restaurant.

"I feel like he's just going to waltz through the door at any moment. My dad loved everyone who walked through that door. No matter who you were," Janelie Sanchez, Job's daughter, said.

But, Janelie Sanchez says the tables turned last month when Job was the one who needed taking care of after he was taken to the hospital with COVID-19.

"He called us and he said, 'I'm doing good,' he FaceTimed us. You know, he sounded so much better than when he first went in," Sanchez said.

Sadly, he got worse. The husband, father and devoted community member passed away.

"We got there just in time. My mom was talking to him, tell him, 'wake up, you got this, you can do it.' And, then hours later, is when he passed," Sanchez said.

Before his passing, Job did what so many other business owners have done during the pandemic. He learned to adjust to the new normal. But it didn't stop there.

"He was like, what can we do? How can we better this for everyone? What can we throw out there so people still want to come and eat here?" Sanchez said.

The longtime restaurateur found an answer. Neighboring business owner, customer, and friend Shane Harden started a Facebook group dedicated to takeout happening at restaurants at the start of the pandemic. He told CBS13 that the same day he made the group, he went over to Sanchez's restaurant and taught him how to start posting.

Harden said Sanchez was one of the first places in the Lodi area to take advantage of doing takeout orders.

"It wasn't popular back then. It was just brand-new. But, as soon as they figured it out and they saw what it could do, they embrace it and was on it right away," Harden said.

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Something else Sanchez embraced was giving back to the community. One of those groups was a nonprofit raising money to help resolve unsolved homicides.

"We're just one of the few that he gave. I know that he gave to a lot of kid's foundations," Leticia Galvan, the president and founder of the Luis G. Alvarez Rewards for Justice Program, said.

It's a legacy made in Lodi that won't be forgotten. But, it also a time for this family to reflect that the pandemic can hit any family at any time.

"It is really upsetting that, you know, we try our best to conform to the rules and regulations of everything. And yet, that this; this had happened to us," Sanchez said.

The Sanchez family thanks the community for their outpour of support during these tough times.

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