Irma Gutierrez has owned Irma’s Place in Stockton for three decades, guiding the small business through personal hardships and global emergencies.
STOCKTON, Calif. — As downtown Stockton worker Steve Dial walks from his office to his favorite restaurant, Irma’s Place, he doesn’t know which dish to order yet, but he already knows to expect the warm hospitality of the restaurant’s owner, Irma Gutierrez.
“It’s nice first thing in the morning… you get out of the car, walk across the street and be greeted with a big ‘Buenos dias’ from Irma,” Dial said. “Knowing that the owner is back there in the kitchen taking care of you is outstanding.”
The warm hospitality has been a staple of the Weber Avenue business as Gutierrez works 10-hour shifts nearly every day. Now, Dial and other customers are fundraising to close their favorite restaurant for a week and allow Gutierrez to take a vacation.
“Irma has made it through all of these obstacles and continues to be here. She needs a break and deserves it,” Dial said. “It’s almost impossible for her to save enough money to do that on her own so I thought maybe we can do some crowdfunding and get her a nice vacation.”
Gutierrez has called the restaurant on Weber Avenue home since 1974. Years turned into decades, and Gutierrez eventually became the owner in 1992.
“When I started, I was nervous. I didn’t know (how) I was going to do it and it’s already (been) 30 years now,” said Gutierrez. “It’s hard to be in business but I’m glad I keep going and I love this place, I love being with the people making (them) happy.”
Owning the restaurant means guiding it through global hardships like the recession, the COVID pandemic, and the current nationwide staffing shortage. Despite the