In 2015, Alejandro Diaz opened El Santo, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in New Westminster.
In the five years since, El Santo has quickly gained critical acclaim – both regionally and nationally. They have been featured in publications such as The Globe and Mail and Vancouver Sun, and have been listed in OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurants in Canada for a Big Night Out and Vancouver Magazine’s Best Latin Restaurant.
As a business owner, Alejandro firmly believes in using his success to positively impact the community around him. For his family, this means supporting Canucks Autism Network (CAN).
Around the same time his restaurant opened, Alejandro’s son Parker was diagnosed with autism.
“As a father, I understand both the challenges and joys of raising a child with autism,” Alejandro shared with us.
“We have experienced first-hand the need for inclusion and acceptance in the community.”
While searching for organizations that could support Parker, Alejandro’s family found CAN in 2016.
As members of the CAN community, they have participated in Family Events like our annual Festival of Lights, Rogers Arena Skate and Sports Day. Meanwhile, Parker has benefited from CAN’s weekly swimming lessons and overnight camp in the summer.
“We have participated in many CAN programs,” Alejandro said.
“But what we appreciate most is how they train other businesses and groups to take action and join them in supporting individuals with autism. That’s why I believe so strongly in giving back to CAN.”
Learn more about CAN Training & Community Engagement.
Since joining CAN, Alejandro has used his restaurant as a platform to raise incredible financial support for our programs, training and community engagement initiatives.
For every kids meal purchased at the restaurant, $1 is donated to CAN.
Additionally, his fundraising dinners have brought in upwards of $11,000 on an annual basis. Featuring multiple courses paired with carefully-curated drink pairings, they are highly-anticipated events that quickly sell out.
At our own fundraisers, El Santo’s exclusive dining experiences are consistently among the most coveted auction items. At our recent CAN Reveal Gala, El Santo donated a private dinner for 24 that raised an incredible $20,000!
After just four years, Alejandro and El Santo have raised over $88,800 for CAN – an astounding contribution from a pillar of the CAN community.
But like many small businesses and restaurants, El Santo has had to temporarily close their doors due to the current COVID-19 crisis.
It should come as no surprise that despite having to shut down, Alejandro was still finding ways to give back. Rather than letting fresh perishables go to waste, the chefs at El Santo whipped up hundreds of meals for those in their community to pick up free of charge.
And this past month, they have begun taking fresh meals over to healthcare workers at Royal Columbian Hospital. Despite their own hardships, it is inspiring to see El Santos’ efforts to continue lifting up their community.
If you or someone you know lives in the New Westminster area, please consider purchasing a gift card to El Santo. And if you aren’t connected to the New West community directly, trust us – it’s worth the trip when they re-open their doors.
Gift cards can be purchased by calling Alejandro Diaz directly at 604-727-8176 or emailing [email protected].
Better yet, El Santo is currently accepting pre-orders for Mother’s Day takeout!