Angel Zhen resurrecting ‘Hollie's' logo in Calexico

January 10, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — "Hollie's Lounge" is coming back to town.

On Wednesday morning, Pablo "Pablito" Vasquez signed over the lease to his Imperial Avenue restaurant and lounge, Pablitos of the Desert, to Angel Zhen, one of Calexico's Chinese ambassadors and a local resident.

Zhen is owner of Brawley's Friendship Restaurant.

Zhen plans to renovate the former Pablito's site and open a Friendship Restaurant there on March 1.

Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce, said Zhen decided to name the hotel's lounge "Hollie's Lounge" to spark memories for generations of Calexicans who visited the Imperial Avenue watering hole started by Dale Holloway decades ago.

Holloway's son, Mark, a manager at Sam Ellis Department Store in Calexico, said, "It's an honor that they would remember him after all these years."


He said his father worked hard to make "Hollie's" a popular place for Calexicans and the then-Fiesta Hotel's out-of-town visitors.

"He'd go from table to table and make sure everything was OK," Holloway said.

Following in the long-since-past Holloway's footsteps will be one of Zhen's first business ventures here but city officials hope it is not his last.

Zhen is one of Calexico's recently appointed "Chinese ambassadors" who has been tasked with attracting Chinese investors to start a "Chinatown" here.

While the new restaurant isn't part of that grand plan, it will offer Chinese food.

A waitress at the Brawley location said the Calexico restaurant will feature some of the same spicy Szechwan food sold in Brawley.

In the mornings the restaurant will offer continental breakfasts.

"(Quality Inn guests) get a free continental breakfast with their room," Carrillo-Rivera said.

For lunch the restaurant could serve a Chinese buffet but the exact menu hasn't been finalized; for dinner, Italian and Chinese cuisine and possibly a few cuts of steak will be featured.

Carrillo-Rivera said, "I've met with (Zhen.)" She said she felt "good vibes."

"He wants to make sure the community know he is going to be community-minded. He's already made sure the Soroptomists were having their wine- tasting there," she said.

As for "Pablito" Vasquez, a waitress at his El Centro restaurant said he could be at his El Centro house or in San Diego. She said she didn't have a phone number for him.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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