Matriarch of Tucson’s El Charro Café receives Forbes “visionary” recognition | Attendees



El Charro Café owner Carlotta Flores was put on the Forbes Visionary List of 50 women over 50.


Rebecca Sasnett, Arizona Daily Star

Tucson restaurateur Carlotta Flores was in the middle of a dental exam earlier this month when she received the news.

Forbes magazine named her one of its “50 over 50” women in business who don’t let age stop them.

“So very humiliating,” said Flores, who runs her family’s Si Charro restaurant group, which includes the flagship El Charro Café, and said that she created the Forbes “vision” list of women who, through health care, Art and other areas in society and culture make a difference.

It is one of four “50 Over 50” lists that the business magazine compiled from more than 10,000 nominations at the beginning of the year.

Flores, 74, works for a prestigious company that includes fashion designer Eileen Fisher, vice president of Google tech, Marian Croak, actress and activist Geena Davis, ABC News president Kimberly Godwin, and Texas oil company owner Marsha Hendler.

“I represent a lot of women who … maybe not Kamala Harris, but maybe they are in their own lives,” said Flores.

Vice President Harris was added to the first list published in June, which included Miami Marlins GM Kim Ng, BioNTech biochemist and senior VP Katalin Karikó, Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer and Grey’s Anatomy producer / creator / screenwriter Shonda Rhimes.

Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Equality Now Global Executive Director Yasmeen Hassan, and Library of Congress Librarian Carla Hayden are on the Impact list published in July; a fourth list entitled “Investment” will appear soon.

Forbes partnered with MSNBC’s “Know Your Value” movement “Morning Joe” last December to launch Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value” movement to launch the magazine’s “50 Over 50” project, that highlights women over 50 who have made significant achievements later in life and continue to make an impact.

Originally, the magazine wanted to make a single list, but after the overwhelming response, it expanded the project to highlight more women.

Flores appears to be the only restaurateur to date after being nominated by longtime friend Gloria Alvillar and longtime admirer Rosalie Crowe. The couple also hired Tucson publicist Norma Gentry, who works with Si Charro, to compile information for the nomination.



Carlotta Flores is making a “El Charrito” pop-up in the back alley of the former Jacome department store. They had a weekly mercado down the alley that was a route to things like today’s food truck rallies and pop-up shops.


Courtesy Ray Flores

The Flores nomination was Crowe’s idea and came two days before the March 1st deadline. Crowe said she saw Brzezinski on Morning Joe when the host announced the upcoming deadline.

“I thought we should get someone out of here, not just your standard CEOs. And I immediately thought of Carlotta,” said Crowe, a retired journalist who knows Flores through her volunteer work at the University of Arizona Chicano / Hispanic Student Affairs & Resource Center.

The trio endeavored to put together a compelling argument that Flores deserved recognition. Alvillar sent the nomination in just a few hours.

As soon as she hit submit on her computer, she found that she had left out the information about the number of Flores employees – now 400, 500 before the pandemic – and the number of restaurants, which also included licensing agreements for their brands at several had airports and the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Alvillar, who worked at the University of Arizona for 30 years including senior positions in facility management and university libraries, called Forbes editor Maggie McGrath to see if she could change the nomination.

While she had the New York editor on the phone, Alvillar raved about Flores and Tucson and invited McGrath over for a visit.

“I told her that we are the UNESCO City of Gastronomy. We’ll show you around. You don’t just eat at El Charro, we take you to all of the restaurants. You’ll just have a ball here, ”Alvillar recalled the conversation. “I said, ‘You have to meet (Flores). You give us so few words to tell you about the magic of this woman and this city. ‘ I wanted her to know that this is just an amazing, amazing person. “



El Charro Restaurant, 311 N. Court Avenue, is one of the many businesses Carlotta Flores runs.


Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star

Flores said the nomination took her by surprise, despite speaking with McGrath two days before the list was announced on Aug. 12.

McGrath told Flores she was a finalist and interviewed her. Flores initially referred to the experience as just another “best of” list, likely to come with a small fee, as is the case with so many national lists.

But when the news hit the lists on social media, Flores said she realized it was real.

“I still can’t quite believe it,” she added.

Flores and the other nominees have one thing in common: “A prepayment mindset” and a determination to “work on solving some of society’s greatest problems, including access to health care for all, food security, rights for people with disabilities and” much more “said McGrath in a written statement.

Flores has continued to pay since she took over El Charro in 1972 from her aunt Monica Flinn, the founder of El Charro. Flinn has run the restaurant since it opened in 1922 and began looking for a successor at the age of 90.

Flores and her husband Ray Sr. came home from California with their two young children – their daughter was born in Tucson about a year later – to run the restaurant.

In the early days, Flores’ son Ray said his mother was involved in the community, served on boards, and donated her time and food from the restaurant to charity.

“My mother always told me… sometimes you have to give more than you get if you want to achieve something,” says Ray Flores, who runs the family business. “My mom volunteered all the time, she was on boards all the time. She just got engaged. She was always involved. “



Carlotta Flores took over El Charro in 1972 from her aunt Monica Flinn, the founder of El Charro. Flinn has run the restaurant since it opened in 1922 and began looking for a successor at the age of 90.


Chris Richards, Arizona Daily Star

“When you look at her history and history of building something, you naturally look up to her,” said Maria Mazon, chief owner of Boca Tacos y Tequila, which have made their own mark on the culinary landscape of Tucson in recent years Has. “Oh, shoot, she did it! And now that times are tough, she keeps opening and reinventing what she built. What she built brought her to where she is. “

“She deserved it,” added Mazon. “When you build something, you don’t think about the future. … Imagine what she has just come up with and see what she has now. “

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected] On Twitter @Starburch

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