Remembering Luisa Allen – She Reigned at Nati’s for Over 50 Years

by on October 29, 2011 · 9 comments

in OB Heroes, Ocean Beach

Luisa Allen in front of Nati's at its 50th anniversary. (Photo by Frank Gormlie)

By Gail Powell

Mourners filled Sacred Heart Church in Ocean Beach on Friday morning, October 28th, to pay their respects to a beloved local lady named Luisa Allen.

Many regulars who enjoy eating at Nati’s Mexican restaurant on Bacon Street have most likely made the acquaintance of this longtime hostess and waitress. Luisa started out at the popular eatery as a waitress 51 years ago! She always greeted every customer with hospitality and a friendly smile. Luisa remembered the favorite menu items of her patrons and she watched as the babies who enjoyed Nati’s in the womb grew up and became Nati’s regulars themselves with kids of their own.

Luisa was soon to retire and enjoy her many children and grandchildren. But on Wednesday, October 12, she reportedly left a family gathering, saying she did not feel well. The next morning, something was not right. Luisa was taken to the hospital and she passed from a stroke on Saturday, October 15. Co-workers, friends and Nati’s customers were in a state of shock. This wonderful woman was the embodiment of the family restaurant.

Memorial service for Luisa at Sacred Heart. (Photo by Gail Powell)

Her memorial service filled the pews of Sacred Heart, where Luisa worshiped, and an altar decorated with floral arrangements and a portrait of Luisa brought home the reality of this final farewell. One of Nati’s owners, Dennis Kerr, gave a very moving eulogy that brought many to tears, myself included. After the service, Luisa’s children greeted mourners and later that afternoon, she was laid to final rest at Holy Cross Cemetery.

It is not often that a simple waitress with a sweet disposition brings out such love and devotion in the Ocean Beach community. Luisa Allen was truly a wonderful woman and will be dearly missed by all.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen Lewis October 30, 2011 at 10:51 am

So very sorry to hear of Luisa’s passing. My first memory of Nati’s go’s back to 1955 or so, My mom took us there regularly. Then around 1968 or 9 my wife worked there for about a year. I can’t say I knew her but she alway treated me as if she knew me, I remember her as a very kind soul….


Uncle George October 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm

How sad I saw Luisa about a year ago? I liked to sit in the corner in the left side
of the restaurant (next to the mens room) just to people watch and for the privacy.
But I’ll never forget the Spanish dancer like Luisa balancing two plates on one arm and carrying another plate with a serious but friendly look her face navigating across the floor of Natis. In all my years going there I only the sound once of a crash boom bang of dishes falling from the kitchen, some cursing in Spanish but I didn’t think it was Luisa, but I had to intoxicatedly laugh because I could never figure out who dropped the plates. Long ago I usually had Maria (?) the thin lady with a long black ponytail or Jose because they tended to that side of the restaurant. But Luisa was so sweet always so attentive and fun to watch with her fluttering eyelashes when I’d wink at her having consumed too many margaritas during the summer of rum and cokes during the winter. Hi Natis I love you all.


Frank Gormlie October 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

My family has been going to Nati’s since the early sixties. My sister has to go there every time she visits us from Atlanta and knew Luisa after all these years. We’ll all miss her and her ever-present smile and welcoming attitude.


Volkmar Matthew Scatolini December 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm

My name is Volkmar. I am 28 years old from Ocean Beach. I was practically raised by this woman. I will never forget the last time me and my mother went to see her, and she gave me a big hug, said I love you and kissed me on the cheek and that was the last time I got to see her.

I love her, she is now with our heavenly father.
God bless her and her family.


Jill Mollenhauer December 3, 2011 at 6:57 am

I rmember Luisa as a little child (and I am well into my 50’s now!) I thought she was the most gorgeous, exotic woman on the planet – the way she wore her hair and make up fascinated me. I remember even sitting in teh hight chairs at Nati’s because they were teh Mexican ones that were all colorfully painted. Years later, in teh 80’s, when I did the murals at the retaurant I was surprised and pleased to see that she was still there. What a lovely woman who touched many hearts in ways we may never know~

Thank you Luisa, for your gifts, your love!


Tom Griswold May 20, 2012 at 6:59 am

She will definitely be missed. She was always so sweet. I went to OB Elementary with her son Marco, and it’s not often that you have nothing but nice feelings for the same person for 40 years. She was like everybody’s mom. There’s a lot to like about Nati’s, and she was at the very top of that list.


Tom Bailey July 14, 2012 at 6:56 am

Luisa is gone. The last couple of times I went to Nati’s, I looked for her but didn’t see her. I thought she probably had the day off, or she’d retired like she kept telling me she planned to do. I always had the feeling that she gave me special treatment, but then so did lots of other customers. I always sat at one of her tables and enjoyed talking with her. To me she was a very special part of OB.


Roger July 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm

So Sad! I hadn’t seen her in over a year. I live up by Lake Arrowhead now, but grew up in Ocean Beach! Nati’s became Nati’s in 1960, before that it was another Mexican restaurant. I used to know the original owner, Vern Lontz, he lived a block from me.
Luisa alwasy was smilikng, friendly, one of my two all tune favorite waitresses there. Wish I had known she has passed away sooner. Last time I dropped in, she served me Albondigas soup. Nati’s made the best Albondigas soup to be found anywhere!


Roger July 25, 2012 at 12:26 am

Just remember the name of the restaurant before it was Nati’s, it was Consuela’s.


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