Adela Mundt, who as owner of Loma Linda and other venues guided her family's restaurant — and margarita — tradition for more than 40 years, died Tuesday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. She was 77.
She had cancer surgery about two years ago, after which “her lung capacity did not materialize like it should,” said her husband, Alfred.
Mrs. Mundt became the matriarch of Loma Linda, Ventura's, and Barron's Cafe. She and her husband sold Fritz and Alfredo's, which Mr. Mundt co-founded, to her brother, Arturo.
Loma Linda got its start in the mid-1950s, when her sister and brother-in-law Connie and Darrell Barron bought a tavern on the old Chicago Pike, now Airport Highway. The small kitchen began to offer Mexican food, thanks to Mrs. Barron and Mrs. Mundt's mother, Ventura Cavazos. About 1970, Mrs. Barron sold Loma Linda to Mrs. Mundt, who'd worked there alongside other family members.
Loma Linda has been credited as the first Toledo-area establishment to serve Mexican food. Its margaritas helped draw crowds, often elbow to elbow, especially on weekends.
“It was important, and people like a drink and a good drink,” her husband said. “She always said, ‘If you don't have a good drink, you might as well forget it.’”
The popularity of the old Loma Linda became a magnet for new business.
“It seemed like it was always packed and people were standing outside,” her husband said. “It was kind of a draw. People saw that and thought it must be good.”
In the late 1980s, she built a new Loma Linda next door to the original, then tore down the old.
“She was very proud of that,” her husband said. She regarded her biggest success as paying off the loan to build and expand in five years.
“She said she was so thrilled when she made that last payment,” her husband said.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recognized that success and in 1992 named her as Small Business Person of the Year for the Cleveland district. She was often found serving at the bar or busing tables or cooking in the kitchen, noted the SBA, which cited her good relations with employees — more than 100 by then — and customers.
“She was very easy to work with, and I hope she would say the same thing about me,” her husband said.
Mrs. Mundt recognized that customer loyalty offered protection from chain restaurants.
“I feel that establishing yourself in the business over time is what keeps you going,” Mrs. Mundt told The Blade in 2002. “We opened in 1955. We were the first ones in Toledo, and people keep coming back.”
Her husband added: “Most people who leave say, ‘Thank you. It was wonderful.’ That's what she liked the best.”
In recent years, Jeanie Kunzer, a former daughter-in-law, has helped run Loma Linda.
After her husband's 1998 heart transplant, the couple became MCO benefactors.
She was born Jan. 14, 1937, in Los Indios, Texas, to Ventura and Alejo Cavazos. They and their children were farm workers, picking cotton in the south and traveling to northwest Ohio to harvest cucumbers and tomatoes. By the early 1950s, the family settled in what is now the city of Oregon. Mrs. Mundt attended Clay High School.
She was formerly married to the late Michael Kunzer.
Surviving are her husband, Alfred Mundt, whom she married June 12, 1983; stepsons Mike Kunzer and Fred Mundt; stepdaughters Valerie Scott, Karin Pigott, and Jennifer Linne; brother Arturo Cavazos; sisters, Delores King and Marie Hinojosa; 12 grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.
A celebration of life is planned for 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, Funeral services will be private.
The family suggests tributes to the Mundt Cardiology Fund or the Dana Cancer Center, both at UTMC.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.