By the time he was 7 years old, Rigoberto Ortega had his dream job.
With his parents, Ortega sold hamburgers at a flea market in Morelia, Mexico. But he gave up the food business when he moved to California in his 20s; he’s worked in construction since coming to South Carolina.
“You get here and you go, ‘I want to get further in life,’ and if you work hard enough, you can,” his daughter, Rochelle Ortega, says. “He would be up, five in the morning until midnight, and then back at it.”
“He liked construction,” she continues. “But he was like, ‘I want to do something I love to do.’”
Ortega recently opened Rigo’s Mexican Grill and Sports Bar at 4626 Dorchester Road, offering a menu dominated by the burgers he popularized as a boy. The Rigo’s Hamburger #1 is topped with onions, green peppers, crema, cheese, tomatoes, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sausage, bacon and ham.
“There are people who come in vegetarian, and they end up eating the burger,” Rochelle Ortega swears. “It’s just the passion he puts into it.”
In addition to burgers, Rigo’s serves hot dogs, quesadillas and tacos. The restaurant is furnished with booths and a dining counter; blown-up family photos hang above those seats, including a decades-old picture of young Rigoberto with his hamburger cart.
Rigo’s is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information, call 854-222-3167