With his longtime south Minneapolis restaurant up for sale and his own health deteriorating, Joe Minjares has seen better days.
But now two of his famous friends are coming to his aid. Minjares, who opened Pepitos near the corner of 48th and Chicago in 1971, suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, and needs a lung transplant.
This week, comedian Louie Anderson and Joel Hodgson (the creator of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) announced that they are throwing a comedy benefit on Nov. 25 to support Minjares and his family. The show will be held at the adjacent Parkway theater, which Minjares’ family also owns.
Recently, Pepitos lost its liquor license, and management said the Mexican restaurant’s closing could be imminent. Read more about that here.
"Joe Minjares has been a good friend and creative presence in the Minneapolis standup and theater scene for almost 40 years," Hodgson said in a statement. "Joe also gave me free Mexican food when I really needed it. So yeah, performing at his benefit is the least I can do."
Anderson will appear on a pre-recorded video at the show since he is in the midst of shooting season 3 of “Baskets,” the FX series he won an Emmy Award for.
"I used to eat at Pepitos before I was even thinking of becoming comedian,” Anderson said, also in a statement. “I loved the food, but I loved the family atmosphere even more. I remember how nice everyone was -- even Joe!"
“I'm pulling for him to beat this battle he's fighting and I'm glad to be fighting right beside him," Anderson added.
Earlier this month, Minjares’ daughter, Pamela Senkyr, who now runs the restaurant along with brothers Paul and Joe Jr., said the decision to sell Pepitos comes on the heels of a string of hardships.
After struggling financially for several years, Pepitos surrendered its liquor license after falling behind on the taxes. Senkyr said her father’s worsening condition has played a big role as well. Minjares is currently on an oxygen tank as he awaits the lung transplant. As he has deteriorated physically, so has the restaurant, Senkyr said.
“Ever since my dad got sick, it feels like the restaurant is sick,” Senkyr said. “It feels like the restaurant is dying with him.”
The "Thanks and Giving For Joe Minjares Comedy Benefit" will also feature performances by Mary Jo Pehl of MST3K, Alex Jackson, Tom Baumgartner and emcee Kristin Andersen.
The details: 8 p.m. Nov. 25, Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 21+ event. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. theparkwaytheater.com, 612-822-3030.
UPDATE: According to family members, Minjares had surgery Wednesday for the lung transplant. His GoFundMe page also posted an update about the surgery. See the page here.
Star Tribune staff writer Amelia Rayno contributed to this report.