When I ate at El Restaurante de Ixtapa for the first time I was struck by the warmth and passion of the family who owned the restaurant. They so clearly loved what they were doing and had this infectious enthusiasm for their Mexican culture and food. I was amazed to learn that the owner frequently has 14 hour shifts and helps with everything from cooking to waiting to cleaning the bathrooms. She said work for her wasn't a job, it was her passion, a dream. The restaurant was a photographer's paradise--there were hundreds of interesting mementos from Mexico displayed all over the restaurant and colorful food that looked like it came out of a magazine. I knew that I had to photograph this place.

As I got to know the family who owned the restaurant I fell in love with their story. The whole extended family was involved with Ixtapa. Everyone had a role--from the abuela who taught everyone how to cook to the middle school grandchildren who made customers smile as they waited tables. The experience brings everyone closer and ensures that the kids learn life skills and are connected to their Mexican identity. I'm so grateful for the family's kind hospitality--documenting their story has been such a privilege. Their love and work ethic has been truly inspiring.