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Our Friend, José

April 2, 2012

It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you of the passing of our dear friend, José Joni Argueta Hernandez. Many of you have come to know José through the years that he has been a part of the Adega family, as well as his work at Dirty Martini. Beginning as our porter, José grew to be part of the very backbone of our business, by going above and beyond in his desire to see our customers happy. Apart from this, José became a friend to many and beloved by all. He often was the first person to greet someone as they came in our doors, and the last to wish them well upon their departure. His work ethic  and dedication were unparalleled, as were his heart and his friendliness. His absence is already felt.

In brief

On March 13th, José was admitted to the hospital with headaches and nausea, later found to be due to fluid in the brain. During the initial stages of his treatment, he fell into a coma, from which he did not awaken. Unfortunately, his condition was too far advanced to be treated, despite valiant effort by the staff at Georgetown University Medical Center. On Saturday, March 31st, he was pronounced brain-dead. His family has given permission for him to give the gift of organ donation, and preparations are being made to subsequently return José home to his family and friends in Honduras. To this end, we are continuing to accept donations to defray the financial burden on his family – please see below on how you can help. Thank you for your support during this hard time, and please keep his family in your thoughts.

Hopefully, the explanations below will help to answer the questions we are sure many of us have. There, we will try to tell the story of the past weeks, inform where we are going from here, explain how we might help his family, and look forward to honoring and remembering José.


The past weeks

During the evening of Tuesday, March 13th, José began to suffer headaches, which, during the course of the night, worsened to the point of dizziness and nausea. An ambulance was called, and José was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was joined by members of the Adega staff. Within a few hours, he was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, or fluid in the brain, and transferred to the neurological intensive care unit at Georgetown University Medical Center. There, doctors began the procedure of draining the fluid. During this procedure, José suffered a series of minor strokes, and entered into a non-medically induced coma, from which he did not awaken.

In the days following, José was under the care of both the neurology and neurosurgical teams at Georgetown, who were exemplary in their care, dedication to his recovery, and determination to discover the reason for his ailment. He was eventually diagnosed with Neurocysticercosis. (For an explanation, please see below.) Although the hospital attempted treatment, and indeed did everything in their power to enable José to recover, the condition was too far advanced to be reversed. José ultimately stopped showing neural response. Throughout this time, the medical teams, support staff, social workers and administrators at Georgetown showed tremendous compassion, and worked endlessly on behalf of José and his family. They continue this work even now, as they assist José’s family with final preparations. These noble individuals have our respect and undying gratitude.

Since he was first admitted to the hospital, members of the staffs of both Adega and Dirty Martini were a constant presence at José’s side, as were his friends and members of our (and José’s) extended family. A few key persons stepped into the roles of taking care of José’s care and communicating with the hospital and his family, for whom we are very grateful, and without whom this hard time would have been unmanageable. Also during this time, the greater community of Adega and Dirty Martini showed a great deal of support, in kind words, well wishes, cards and donations. All of these served to help those closest to him make it through these hard times, and for all of your support of José and one another, we thank you.

After days of conversation with José’s family in Honduras, it was decided on Saturday, March 31st to run the final tests, after which, around 11:30am, José was pronounced brain-dead. Permission was given by his family for José to help others one last time as an organ donor, after which, preparations are being made to return him to his home, family and friends in Honduras.


The condition (This may be unsettling to some.)

Cysticercosis, in short, is a condition caused by the presence of the eggs of a parasitic tapeworm, which are usually transferred by way of ingesting of infected meats. Neurocysticercosis refers specifically to the condition of these eggs having taken root in the head and brain. It is believed that José may have acquired this condition years ago, most likely in Honduras. The condition normally manifests in headaches, which often go untreated or misdiagnosed. By the time the condition showed in José, it was already past the point of treatment, and we are assured there is nothing else that could have been done.


What is happening now, and how we can help

At this time, there are preparations being made to return José to his family in Honduras. He leaves behind three children, one son and two daughters. For the past week, we have been collecting donations towards José’s recovery. It is our intention, at this time, that these funds be used to facilitate José’s trip home, and, as much is possible, his family’s expenses. We are working with his cousins, with whom he lived, to ensure delivery of his personal belongings, amongst which are many boxes of gifts and necessities he had been collecting to send to his children. His brother is also making preparations to come up from Honduras, to make final arrangements and accompany José on his trip home.

We are, to this end, keeping our donations page open, and any money therein collected will be used for these purposes. We do not know what the final expenses for this process will be, but believe them to easily be in excess of $10,000. If, by some great outpouring, there are funds left over after all is taken care of, we intend to find a way that the money can safely and directly be used for his children.


Looking ahead

It is currently our intention to, in the near future, hold a memorial for José, where we can all gather as family and friends to celebrate his life and gifts to us. Once arrangements have been made, we will let you all know, as much in advance as possible. We hope that anyone touched by José’s life and presence with us will attend. For now, we hope that the love, support, and caring that his friends have shown for one another will continue, as none of us is left unaffected by this tragic loss.

José truly enjoyed seeing his fellow staff and our customers happy and enjoying one another’s company, and dedicated himself to working hard to ensure that every hour of every day he was with us. Therefore, out of respect for José’s legacy, it is our intention that, moving forward, Adega will remain open during normal hours, apart from any memorial planned in the future. Please know that this is not done out of callousness towards his passing, but rather in honor of his life among us. We are certain José would want nothing more at this time than to see us, his extended family, coming together.


In closing

                We thank you for your support of José, Adega and Dirty Martini’s staff, and you, José’s adopted family here in Silver Spring and Washington. If you have any questions, or need clarification, about anything presented here, please do not hesitate to ask. We will answer to the best of our ability and to the extent that his family’s privacy and wishes permit. If you wish to contribute to the fund being raised, please visit, or speak with a manager.

As always, thank you for being part of our, and José’s, extended family.

Rest in peace, José Joni Argueta Hernandez, coworker and friend. You are greatly missed.


  1. Thank you for the difficult story. I’ll be dropping by to donate. More than once I stopped by to tell the manager how I enjoyed my visit due to Jose, and the answer was always “We KNOW! He’s awesome!” My condolences to his family.

    Comment by Andrea — April 2, 2012 @ 2:46 am

  2. Alerted by a friend only today, and with fond remembrances of JosA, his permanent smile and gracious manner, we are truly saddened by his parting. This is so touching and beautifully written. Thank you for letting us and the Adega community know. Rest in peace, JosA.

    Comment by Maureen Mirowski and Bill Evans — April 2, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Rest in peace, José. Thank you for the kindness and the sunshine.

    Comment by Vanessa — April 3, 2012 @ 2:12 am

  4. My husband and I are devastated to hear this shocking news. Jose was a man who lit up the world of Adega; I have never seen a man work so hard and happily. He had a wonderful smile. We go to Adega frequently, and knowing such a wonderful person worked there was an added incentive. I pray for his family and weep tears with them. This is truly bitter news.
    University Park, MD

    Comment by Julia — April 4, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  5. Every time I was in Adega Jose made me feel like he was there just waiting for me to walk through the door. He was a big part of why I never seem to go anywhere else to hang out with friends. I think about him often and I hope that his family understands how much he meant to so many of us who saw him regularly.

    Comment by Liz Brent — April 5, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  6. My husband and I were shocked and saddened by this news. We always enjoyed talking to José and know he was looking forward to going home to Honduras this year. He was proud to have sent home enough money for his family to build a house and very sad that he could not go home when his father and brother died. What is written above says better than I could what a wonderful part of the Adega experience José was. We will miss him so much!
    Terri Shaw
    Steven Gray

    Comment by Terri Shaw — April 7, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  7. Jose was always a kind and attentive part of Adega staff and will be missed by his customers.

    Comment by Morgan — April 11, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  8. Hello:

    Will you let me know when Jose’s memorial is scheduled? Thank you so much for keeping Jose’s story up on your website.

    Comment by Cheryl Little — April 25, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  9. Cheryl, and all,

    Please see our latest post regarding a memorial for Joni. All are welcome!

    Comment by adega — April 30, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

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