Business owner leaves Mexico City just before earthquake; now giving back

9 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Tuesday, September 26 2017 Sep 26, 2017 Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:38:00 PM CDT September 26, 2017 in News
By: Chris Joseph, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - The owner of the two La Siesta restaurants in Columbia is using his business to raise money for earthquake relief efforts. Francisco Guillen was in Mexico less than an hour before the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit.

He was flying out of Mexico City when it happened. He had been calling family and friends during the take off of his American Airlines flight to Dallas. A pre-scheduled earthquake drill at 11 that morning had made him nervous.

"It was like it was my first flight actually, but I have been flying for almost thirty years," Guillen said.

The earthquake began around 1 p.m.  Guillen learned about it as soon as he landed. 

"I started calling my friends and relatives, and I couldn't get a hold of anyone. So I got pretty upset. I was nervous, I wanted to go back." Guillen said. 

All of Guillen's family and friends are safe and their property is mostly undamaged.

"I got really scared. I got scared because if I had stayed another day, I may not have made it back," he said. 

And he did almost stay that extra day. Guillen was in Mexico City for dental work and his dentist had asked him to finish the procedure while he was there.

Guillen decided against it because he will be returning to the area in November.

Guillen had stayed near a school that collapsed. NBC News reported on Monday 300 people were dead and thousands have been displaced. 

To help relief efforts, Guillen is giving the Red Cross 10 percent of both La Siesta locations' gross sales from Monday and Tuesday. His goal is to donate $1,000 and estimates $330 was earned on Monday. 

"It's not a whole lot, but it's something. Whatever we can do to help," Guillen said. 

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