Members of the Long Beach and Michael’s Restaurant communities are mourning the loss of Chianina General Manager Alejandro G. Duran, who died suddenly Monday evening while swimming in the waters off of Long Beach’s Peninsula. A GoFundMe account has been set up for his wife and daughters, with $6,575 raised toward its goal of $50,000.
Carl Dene, a principal of Michael’s Restaurant Group, said Duran was on a Duffy in the waters near 61st Place, went for a swim, and began to experience a leg cramp. He was carried out of the water in the area before being transferred to a hospital and being declared dead.
An autopsy is being conducted to determine what he died of, said Dene, as initial reports stated he died of a sudden heart attack, but it is also possible his death may have been caused by a blood clot in his leg, which stopped his heart.
Dene said the loss was especially jarring, given Duran’s penchant for lighting up the room.
“He was an amazing person,” said Dene. “Everyone loved him. His daughter attended Naples Elementary, he knew everyone around there.”
A release issued by Dene and Duran’s family described him as a “well-respected figure in the restaurant industry,” known to those around him as a “passionate, driven, and motivated individual.”
He was born in Madrid, Spain and studied Business Administration at the University of San Diego, before working for 17 years in the management business. He moved to Long Beach in 2013 from Austin, Texas, where he co-owned a restaurant named Mulago, to help launch the Michael’s Restaurant Group’s Chianina on Naples.
Dene said he made an immediate impact on the community upon moving to the city. “It’s rare that you see a staff love, respect and follow someone like him,” said Dene. He had worked in the restaurant as recently as Saturday, before taking his usually Sunday and Monday off.
Chianina posted a tribute video dedicated to Duran on Facebook yesterday.
Alejandro G. Duran, General Manager and Sommelier at Chianina (October 5, 1959 – August 8, 2016) It is with great sadness that Michael’s Restaurant Group announces the passing of an essential and much-loved member of the MRG family. Alejandro G. Duran, General Manager and Sommelier at Chianina Steakhouse in Naples, suffered a heart attack on August 8th while spending time at the beach with his family. Duran was a well-respected figure in the restaurant industry and was known to those around him as a passionate, driven, and motivated individual. He moved to Long Beach, CA from Austin, Texas to help MRG launch Chianina in November of 2013. Although MRG mourns the loss of our tremendous culinary leader, Alejandro will also be remembered as someone with a quick wit and an amazing sense of humor. He had the unique ability to find joy in the journey—and then pass it on to others. Family, friends, and co-workers will fondly remember their very own “World’s Most Interesting Man” dressing up as Don Johnson at Chianina’s ‘80s night. His ability to laugh at himself was one of his most memorable traits. As we honor a life well-lived, please keep Alejandro’s wife, Dana, and daughters, Sofia and Isabella, in your hearts and minds during this time. If you wish to make a donation to the family, please click here: https://www.gofundme.com/2jcvfrasPosted by Chianina Steakhouse on Tuesday, August 9, 2016
“Alejandro will be remembered for his larger-than-life personality and willingness to mentor his staff,” the release stated. “He encouraged his team to take pride in their work and to be the absolute best they could be. He was described as a ‘bright soul who made everyone laugh in the room.’”
Alejandro is survived by his wife, Dana Douglas-Duran, their daughter, Sofia, and his daughter, Isabella, from a previous marriage.