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Saddle River Resident, Longtime Restaurant Owner, Dies At 79

"Manny" Tello, the owner of the El Bandido in Spring Valley, died April 6.
"Manny" Tello, the owner of the El Bandido in Spring Valley, died April 6. Photo Credit: Contributed

The longtime owner of the El Bandido restaurants in Rockland, Orange and Essex counties, died on Friday, April 6 surrounded by his family at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. He was 79.

Santiago Manuel Tello, a 20 year resident of Upper Saddle River, was born May 1, 1938, in Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico and emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-70's.

Known as "Manny," to all, he moved to the U.S. seeking the American dream and found it by opening El Bandido Restaurant in Spring Valley in 1976, with his friend Leonardo Weiner.

After launching El Bandido in Spring Valley, Tello added restaurants in Orange County (Middletown) and Essex County (Fairfield and Orange).

Manny is survived by his wife Angelica; children Tonatiuh (Tony), Citlali (Stella), Krystal, Angel, Victor, Maribel, Taide, and Marco; his brother Jose; his 11 grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by his parents Manuel and Hilaria.

Manny was a successful restauranteur, but most of all, a gracious and welcoming host at his restaurants for more than 40 years.

He was also a business mentor to many of his employees so that they could experience the same American dream. He learned that focusing on the family was more important than all else. According to his family, Manny felt that his family should appreciate the culture and history of Mexico as well as the opportunities of the U.S.

This cultural exchange was also shared with his customers as they viewed the murals and the visual history of Mexico, in the Spring Valley restaurant.

Services have been held.

Memorial contributions can be made in Manny's name to the Mustard Seed Communities, 29 James Ave, Medfield, MA 02050 or Mustardseed.com .

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