Alex Meruelo: From pizza parlors to owning the Atlanta Hawks

Alex Meruelo. (Photo courtesy of the Meruelo Group.)

Alex Meruelo. (Photo courtesy of the Meruelo Group.)

The man who’s buying the Atlanta Hawks played basketball himself — at Don Bosco Technical Institute, a Catholic high school in Rosemead, Calif. Alex Meruelo became a starter for the Tigers as a junior, whereupon vocational opportunity intervened.

“My father gave me the chance to run my own business,” Meruelo said, speaking on a conference call with two AJC writers. “He had a bridal-and-tuxedo business. He leased the tuxedo part to me.”

That was it for his hoops career. (Couldn’t stay for practice when there were groomsmen to be measured.) Thirty-two years later, it’s no longer an either/or consideration. Alex Meruelo has made a bunch of money, having gone from renting out cummerbunds to building a chain of Southern California eateries — La Pizza Loca — to owning a TV station in Los Angeles to buying a hotel and casino in Reno. And now the entrepreneur is about to diversify into basketball.

“This is more than a dream for me,” …

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