Many considered his breakfast tacos were second to none, as was his legendary generosity.
Dan Perez, who served up those famous breakfast burritos for more than 30 years in Baytown, died Sunday morning. He was 65.
His C&D’s Grocery and Bakery served customers from Baytown and all over on Market Street until a devastating fire in January 2018. Before that, he had a store on Missouri Street and before that, he had one behind Robert E. Lee High School. The breakfast tacos he served, as well as his penchant for helping those in need, left an indelible mark on the community.
“The one thing I know is that he is not suffering anymore,” said Melissa Perez, his daughter.
Melissa Perez said her father started with a store behind Lee High School in the early 1980s. After about 10 years, he moved his store over to Missouri Street before purchasing the old Elk Lodge on Market Street.
“He gave food to churches, little leagues, funerals, cheerleaders, softball teams, all kinds of things, and any time anyone passed, he gave food away,” she said. “Anytime someone came to ask, he gave.”
Melissa Perez said he started giving food to the REL team when her brother, Mike, played for the Ganders.
“He made the turkey legs and burritos for the team, and he kept doing it after my brother graduated,” Melissa Perez said. “When my daughter was in the band at REL, a few years ago, she asked him if he could do something for the band. So, for a couple of years, he was feeding the band and not the football team. They got a little upset.”
Melissa Perez said her father’s finances were not what they had been in the past for the last couple of years.
“But his generosity couldn’t leave him, even though he didn’t have much,” she said. “We told him, ‘Dad, you can’t be doing that.’ And he’d say he just couldn’t help it. ‘It is just me. Money comes and goes and when I’m gone, what then?’”
Melissa Perez said her father was also well-spoken and knowledgeable despite not having a college education.
“ He just had this demeanor about himself that was confidence,” she said. “He came from a family with no background. He was proud of himself even though he would never say anything.”
After the popular C&D’s burned down in 2018, Dan Perez’s family was concerned about him opening up a new store. He opened a temporary store on Market Street before finally opening up a more permanent spot on North Alexander Drive in 2019 called D&D’s, which was named with his wife, Dilia.
“We didn’t want him to open up another store. It was mainly because of his health,” Melissa Perez said. “Ultimately, I began to realize, the new business gave him a little bit of motivation. He was their go-to person to ask questions. Without him, I do not think they would know how to run it. He was telling them what to do and how to do it. That is how they got the new store running.”
Once the news broke on social media, many paid their respects to Dan Perez. One was Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo.
“His business has certainly been a staple here, regardless of the location he had,” Capetillo said. “You have police, firefighters, all citizens that always went in. And it was not just the tacos. He welcomed everyone. When someone like that passes and has touched so many individuals over the decades, obviously, it is a huge loss.”
Capetillo said he is exploring options on how best to honor and recognize Dan Perez.
“We have to consider whatever would be the most appropriate,” he said.
Fred Aguilar, Promise Center president, said he has known Dan Perez since he had the Missouri Street store. He said the elder Perez would not hesitate to reach in his cash register and give $50 to be a sponsor for the West Baytown Civic Association’s T-shirts.
“He gave from the heart and helped a lot of people,” Aguilar said. “He was one of a kind. That was going to be his legacy. He would help anybody that needed help.”
Melissa Perez said no funeral arrangements had been made as of yet.