HOUSTON — He’s an immigrant whose business has become a landmark on Houston’s north side. It’s called Gerardo’s Drive In, and Jose Luis Lopez is still going strong, despite his health problems.

"The best in town,” said longtime customer Rico Cadena when referring to the barbacoa sold.

Since 1977, Lopez has been serving up what his customers call the best down-home authentic Mexican food around.

“They come over here, because they know we serve the real barbacoa, and carnitas, menudo, tamales and all the stuff," Lopez said.

The immigrant from Mexico came to Houston in 1965 and started working in some of Houston's finest hotel kitchens. Then he decided to start his own place and he named it after his son, Gerardo, a son who marvels at how his 78-year-old dad, with multiple health problems, still shows up to work every day.

"Diabetes, cholesterol, now he goes to dialysis, too,” Gerardo said. “Also his toes, they cut them off, but he's still here."

But his father said working is actually the medicine that brings him strength.

"I feel in good health,” Lopez said.

There’s a colorful new mural wrapped around Gerardo's Drive In depicting Mr. Lopez and his wife, who died several years ago. Their son is also in the mural. It’s a bright new look.

But inside, it seems little has changed through the years at a place that’s always been more than just a restaurant.

"A legend thing,” Gerardo said. “They say if you haven't ate at Gerardo's, you haven't came to the north side."