PASSING THE TORCH — Pictured, from left: Chris Ambrosini passes a symbolic torch to Javier Mondragon-Hernandez, his brother Antonio and his nephew Jose.

After being closed for a short while, Zini’s Diner on South Cloverdale Boulevard reopened in mid-January. With its reopening came new owners — Javier Mondragon-Hernandez and his wife, Carmen.

Mondragon-Hernandez started as an employee at Zini’s in 2015, bringing with him 20 years of restaurant industry experience. He said that taking over ownership of Zini’s has helped fulfill his dream of having his own restaurant.

“I like to work,” he said, adding that he viewed the opportunity as a way to continue working for Zini’s while building on its legacy.

Zini’s was opened in 2010 by Chris Ambrosini, using his family’s recipes. Ambrosini plans to work alongside Mondragon-Hernandez for an undetermined amount of time to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

“It was time for me to work a little less and slow down,” Ambrosini said of his decision to sell the business. “I’m not at the age to retire, but I’m not young anymore.”

“I pretty much started this business from scratch, and I’m happy to pass it on to someone who wants to keep it basically the same … rather than selling it to someone who’s going to come in and do a whole different characterization,” Ambrosini said.

Mondragon-Hernandez said that he plans to build on the family recipes brought in by Ambrosini with his own family recipes. As such, he’s planning on adding items such as huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos to the menu, as well as onion rings and other various appetizers.

Zini’s will also have specials geared more toward recipes from his family, Mondragon-Hernandez said.

The diner is a family affair, with Mondragon-Hernandez working working in the restaurant with his wife, brother and a couple of cousins.

Zini’s Diner is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.

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