Relatives of the late owner of the iconic El Tepeyac cafe in Boyle Heights are being sued by a man who alleges he loaned more than $200,000 to the eatery in 1993, but payments and free meals he received stopped after the proprietor’s death two years ago.

Joe Sanchez filed the lawsuit Feb. 10, naming as defendants the cafe and two individuals, Joey Duran and Elena Rojas. He’s seeking nearly $255,000 in damages.

Neither Duran nor Rojas could be immediately reached.

The suit states that the original loan of $234,700 was made in December 1993 and that it was to be repaid with interest. Sanchez claims he did not received all the scheduled payments, but he allowed the cafe’s operator to pay as he could and also accepted free meals as partial payments.

All negotiations took place with then-cafe owner Manuel Rojas, who died Feb. 12, 2013, at age 79 of throat cancer, leaving Elena Rojas and Duran responsible for his debts, the suit states. No further payments were made after that and the free meals ceased, according to the plaintiff.

“(Sanchez’s) attempts to seek repayment under the terms of the contract with El Tepeyac cafe were ignored,” the suit alleges.

El Tepeyac also has a second location in Industry. The El Tepeyac menu features large burritos, including the Hollenbeck and the 5-pound “Manuel’s Special.” Those who complete the challenge to eat a “Manuel’s Special” on the premises are entitled to a free “I Ate the Whole Thing” T-shirt, according to the cafe’s website.

— City News Service

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