ROSEVILLE, Calif. — "It's been a long journey, but I'm here, I'm happy, and I'm blessed."
These are the words you'll hear repeatedly from Mario Astorga, owner of the three Mario's Early Toast Placer County breakfast-brunch meccas located in Granite Bay, Rocklin, and Roseville.
"All good things began to happen to me when I moved to Sacramento and the Sacramento area," he said.
His journey began with his birth in Mexico. Then, his parents relocated to America where he was raised. He displayed a quick gift for soccer, and ultimately received a scholarship to Canada College and a pro soccer career starting back in Mexico with CD Mexico. He thinks his mixed loyalty to the U.S. may have stalled his time in Mexico.
"I was very vocal in the press when they would ask me who would win the World Cup first. I truly believed it would be [the] USA and I said so, and I believe it benched me for some time," he said.
His career continued and landed him a spot as an inaugural member of Sacramento's pro indoor team, The Sacramento Knights, where he was goal keeper with an impressive run. He was about to hit a career stride when his ACL snapped.
"My grandfather always said, 'Mario, you've got to have a plan B.' I didn't! So I turned to food, made some mistakes, learned from them, and Sacramento and the area has been blessing me ever since," said Astorga.
By blessing, Mario is talking about his Early Toast restaurant which opened five years ago in Granite Bay. Lines form every weekend (and most weekdays), and the same can be said for his two new locations in Roseville and Rocklin.
As for the love he says he's received, he's quick to explain how it's returned.
"I talk to my servers all the time, and I tell them that everyone has moments that are difficult, everyone has obstacles. They have LOVE PEOPLE on the backs of all of their t-shirts and I remind them that it's a reminder that they need to be understanding to what people are going through. Approach them with kindness and make sure they walk out of that door as they leave us, ready to have an amazing day," he said. "I know it sounds cheesy but if it wasn’t for the people in this area, if not for this community, I wouldn’t be here. We do this because we love them."
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