Van Ruth operated the iconic Acapulco Restaurant and Lounge until 2007 and owned Donna’s Playpen as well.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
March 24, 2016
Milwaukee, WI – On Tuesday, the death of Donna Van Ruth was announced on social media by Mary A. Giemza-Reinke on her Facebook account. Giemza-Reinke when contacted by Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) on Thursday, confirmed that Van Ruth had passed away recently. Giemza-Reinke’s mother, Sandy used to manage the Acapulco Lounge in the 1980’s.
According to a close friend of Van Ruth who contacted HNNUSA, Van Ruth had suffered several strokes and lived at a nursing home. She was cremated as directed by her last will and testimony, Van Ruth’s friend said.
Van Ruth was the owner of the iconic Acapulco Restaurant and Lounge, 606 W. National Ave. and owner of the National Ballroom adjacent to the restaurant. The Acapulco restaurant closed in 2007 and the building was bought in 2008 by the Council for the Spanish Speaking also known as the Spanish Center.
Van Ruth also owned Donna’s Playpen bar on W. Windlake Ave. in the Southside. She is well remembered for donating food for the Hispanic community events that were organized to advance social justice and the Latino civil rights movement in the early 1970’s.
She was well known by many including local law enforcement (Milwaukee Police) and public elected officials who frequent her restaurant.
The Acapulco Lounge and Ballroom served as an entertainment epicenter for the growing Mexican and Puerto Rican communities in the early 1970’s. Weddings, family and social events, including quinceñeras were held at the Acapulco Lounge and where local Tejano groups, conjunto and Norteño style bands played on the weekends.
Van Ruth is survived by a son.