El Porton closes to mourn loss in family

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 7, 2022

Illinois Wesleyan students noticed that a long-time favorite Mexican restaurant, El Porton, was recently forced to temporarily close. The beloved location, which is right down North Main street from some of the first-year residence halls, lost a member of their family in a recent car crash. 

The owners’ daughter, Yesenia Navarrete, 29, passed away September 26, at Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. She was hit by a car two nights before, near Center and Mulberry Streets. She sustained serious injuries and died in the hospital later. 

The restaurant is currently shut down for mourning, with an altar set up in Yesenia’s memory, decorated with flowers and photos. 

The McLean County Museum of History also posted about her death, sharing a video Q&A that Navarrete did over a year ago in which she talks about her family and describes how El Porton gave her an opportunity to educate customers on Mexican culture.

Navarrete graduated from Bloomington High School in 2011, helped her parents at the restaurant, owned and operated Ameliorative Cooperative and was involved with St. Mary’s Church. There, she was a guidance for the youth of Bloomington and was considered a loving figure for the kids. 

Her funeral was held on Monday, October 3. The accident remains under investigation.

Navarrete’s family shared that her organs were donated, and they posted a message on their Facebook asking for Bloomington’s love and support. 

“Her essence will live on through others. She was an essential pillar within our family, the community and her exit of this world will be hard for everyone who was able to be in her presence,” said the family. 

El Porton is an important and widely-loved figure, both in the Bloomington and IWU community. They ask their loyal customers for time and patience during this time.

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