Meatpie Man, Fast Food Legend Dario Has Died
This weekend the Rufino Dario Hernandez creator of beloved Dario's Meat Pie passed away. His death comes as a massive blow not just to his family but to all his customers. Dario's meatpies are trafficked by plane, boat and bike daily to every corner of Belize - and if you're a Belizean - chances are that at some point you've eaten one of his pies.
Today, like a normal day, his family respected his wishes and opened for business. We stopped by this morning and found that the man we called Dario was more than just a baker - he was a fast food institution.
Sahar Vasquez reporting
This weekend, legend Dario Hernandez died. Hernandez is the founder and creator of the deliciously famous Dario Meat Pie. His meat pies are revered not just in Belize but all over the world. Relatives often take up containers filled with his pies for loved ones that miss that piping hot meat pie.
Hernandez has been selling meat pies since the early seventies. He started out as a small business and eventually grew into a massive one that sells thousands of pies every day.
Dario Hernandez was a man that shunned the spotlight. But he did not shun his customers. Hernandez was more than just a baker, to them he was a friend.
Frank Usher, Customer/Friend
"I know Mr. Dario from I was a little boy and he sells the best meat pie in Belize as far as I could remember and he also bought land right beside mine in Hattieville so I got to know him much better."
"He was a very kind and loving man. I will always remember him and he was hardworking too."
Sahar Vasquez, reporter
"When you heard the news what was your reaction?"
Voice of Customer
"Sad, when I saw it on the TV I got emotional. I knew him in person. He was a nice guy."
"His meat pies will live on forever. Yes, I will and I buy and take to the states with me."
"Sir tell me how long have you been buying Darios for?"
Armin Zaldivar, Customer/Friend
"Over 20 years."
"Did you meet me? Dario, did you know him?"
"Yes, I did know him?"
"What kind of guy was he?"
"Straightforward, straightforward is the best way to describe him."
"What will you miss the most about him?"
"Sir how long have you been buying Darios for?"
Shane Pascassio, Customer
"For over nine or ten years. Every time for breakfast I come and get my Darios. This is my daily stop right here."
"What do you love so much about Darios?"
"It is just different. It does not taste like the other ones that have too much seasoning. It is nice and settled."
"How long have you been buying Darios for?"
Phillip Lins, Customer/Co-worker
"From I am small. I know Mr. Dario from the time he was a little boy."
"Wow, so you have known him since he was a little kid?"
"Yea from I am small, I know him. I used to work with him. I would clean pans for him."
"I used to have a cart that I would back firewood for him because those times he used to be on Douglas Jones Street."
"I know him more than 50 years so you could imagine."
John Flowers, Customer/CO-worker
"He was very upfront straight up boss man. He will be missed. He showed us principles. He stood upright for efficiency."
"Very nice guy. You could tell him anything and he would find a method to resolve your problem and comfort you. He brought a lot of joy in people's life."
Dario Hernandez may be gone but his legacy will live on in his nationally known brand, and his creation, those mouth-watering meat pies.
Dario Hernandez was 79 years old. Respecting his preference for privacy, his family did not want to discuss his cause of death.
Meat pie king, Dario Hernandez, passes at 79
Over the years, Dario’s meat pies have become a beloved part of Belize City’s lunchtime cuisine. Dario Hernandez, 79, has been selling his signature meat pies for over 35 years. Unfortunately, on Saturday, April 21, Hernandez passed away at 8:45 p.m. He had apparently been suffering from stage 4 type 7 cancer since last September.
Brent Hernandez, Dario’s son, told Amandala that his father had a humble beginning, leaving Holy Redeemer Primary School after only completing standard three, and starting to sell pastries that his mother would bake in their home at #2 Cards Alley. In the late 1940’s, he would ride his bicycle through the streets, selling pastries such as honeybun, Spanish cake, and polvorňn.
After his mother became too old to bake in the 50’s, Hernandez continued in her footsteps.
In 1961, after Hurricane Hattie, Dario worked in the construction of houses in Belize. After his family home was rebuilt in the mid 60’s, he continued to bake, selling his pastries at St. John’s College (SJC) during the day and at Mike’s Club at night.
After the demand for his products grew, Dario started renting ovens and then partnered with Reyes Bakery.
Eventually, while Dario Hernandez was still selling at St. John’s, it was suggested to him that he start selling from inside the compound. This led to SJC’s first canteen being built, where Hernandez sold “greasy greasy,” “hard-time” biscuits and his famous honeybun.
After Reyes moved to Orange Walk in the late 70’s, Hernandez opened the first official Dario’s bakery at the corner of Mapp Street and Cleghorn Street. Between the end of the 70’s and the early 80’s, Hernandez opened his doors on Hyde’s Lane, where his bakery is still currently situated.
It wasn’t until the mid-80’s that Hernandez made the transition into making meat pies. Once he began selling them at the primary schools, the demand became so great that there wasn’t time to bake anything else. Thus, Dario’s meat pies were born, and are still a huge success with Belizeans living at home and abroad.
Brent Hernandez said that his father was always willing to help anyone, even by giving money out of his own pocket. He always told his children that their family was blessed, and they should be happy to be able to help other people.
Brent also described his father as being a humble, wise man who enjoyed a peaceful life. He had six children, one daughter from a previous marriage who resides in New York, and five children with his wife, Ofelia Hernandez.
His oldest child, Nichole Perdomo, and the two youngest, Christy and Brent Hernandez, have been working together and managing the bakery for over four years.
According to Brent, the funeral will be held at Holy Redeemer Cathedral, and his father will be buried at Homeland Memorial Park. There will be no wake and no repast.