Update: The Mysterious Disappearance of Jose ‘Pepe’ Ayala, Manager of Javier’s in Dallas

Illustration by Richard Mia.

Jose “Pepe” Ayala, the popular manager of Javier’s in Dallas disappeared on April 20, 2010. I didn’t know about it until May 3rd when I read this post on The Advocate.

I relayed the information to SideDish readers.  After a week or so, I started searching news outlets for  updates. I found nothing except a post on the Dallas Morning News’ Crime Blog. No investigative story; no notice of a reward for information concerning Jose “Pepe” Ayala’s disappearance anywhere.

The whole situation didn’t make sense. I sat down with my editor Tim Rogers. Together we did a cursory search for Ayala on Public Data and found Ayala had been arrested eight times for driving while intoxicated. The last arrest was Friday morning, April 16. Ayala was reported missing on April 20. We called Thomas Korosec to investigate. His story is in the July issue of D Magazine.

When news broke in early May that Jose “Pepe” Ayala had vanished, something didn’t add up. The beloved general manager of Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano had been missing since April 20, when he didn’t show up for work, the first such absence in his 30 years at the Knox-Henderson restaurant.

His daughter, Carmen Ayala-Heritage, told NBC Channel 5 she was so worried that she couldn’t eat or sleep. Her 56-year-old father had dropped out of sight, leaving behind his diabetes medicine, his car keys, and his passport. His bank account hadn’t been touched, she said.

The rest is here.


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  • DGirl

    Great story. The only thing that would make it better is if Dateline’s Keith Morrison would narrate it.


  • Logan

    Hmmm…interesting to go back and read the comments from the initial blog post about his disappearance. So exactly where is he now? He still hasn’t contacted anyone in his family? They don’t know if he will show up June 30? I am still confused.

  • S

    thanks for the follow up…

    @DGirl – errrrr;ohhhrrrr…LOL

  • Carmen

    So funny how when something horrible happens to a family such as this, the focus turns to someone’s dirty laundry. It couldn’t just be left at the fact that he has been missing for over 2 months now. Now it may not matter to any of you, but he IS my Father!!! I dont care what issues he had, he would never just up and leave. Instead, you write a story that implies that because of his status he would just willingly disappear. There is much more to the story, but what’s the point in sharing it when you have it all figured out. I guess I’m in the wrong business, if I could get away with writing stories w/ partial truth and get paid…I guess I would also..Only I know better than to hurt families for a pay check. Let’s just hope that something bad doesn’t happen to someone you love and then you read stories ruining their reputation. He has serviced so many people in his 30 years at Javier’s and for you to write a story about his past is just wrong. you people don’t care..

  • s

    @NN response to Carmen?

    @Carmen while the story did air some unpleasantries, some of us who have been to Javier’s, and read food blogs regularly this IS a good story for a publication. If all of the reporting and blogging were just fluff and non-reporting i could be reading something like Leslie Brenner’s reviews on the Eats Blog

  • Logan

    Carmen, i’m sorry, but when someone mysteriously disappears, their background issues are integral parts of the story. Maybe his alcohol problems have nothing to do with his disappearance, but what an odd coincidence.