In San Bernardino, the Gaitan family has been serving homestyle Mexican food with a philosophy of consistent quality.
Soon, the family will open a second location of The Mexico Cafe, a standalone restaurant on Pechanga Parkway, hoping to bring with them the success they’ve enjoyed since 1951.
For about a year, folks living in south Temecula and the thousands that travel to and fro on Pechanga Parkway wondered exactly what was under construction in a lot just north of Hazit Market.
According to David Gaitan who manages the marketing and kitchen for Mexico Cafe, they have kept the project under wraps until they got closer to opening.
He said they plan on opening this spring but wouldn’t give an exact date.
“We moved to Temecula in 1996, and we eventually found the lot. My grandfather found it and was able to pick up that lot, and we sat on it for a little bit,” Gaitan said. “We’ve always wanted to expand. It was just a matter of getting the rest of the family in line; my brother works there, my mom works there, my uncle works there. My grandfather’s pretty much retired, but he still owns it. So, we set a game plan.”
Gaitan, whose great grandmother founded the restaurant, said the family moved to the Temecula area in 1996 and they saw the city as a growing community that was business-friendly.
“We wanted to bring it to Temecula because San Bernardino is a declining city,” he said. “Here is a much greater opportunity.
“Temecula is a wonderful city. The business to business is really great as well as the community and really helpful. The chamber is really great and really helpful. And you know, there’s a need I think for a Mexican restaurant, a full-service Mexican restaurant that can cater to large, large parties,” he said.
Gaitan said that the sheer volume of traffic on Pechanga Parkway and the general lack of dining or businesses along the thoroughfare will bring in a lot of customers.
In all, the restaurant will be able to seat more than 400 people in the 14,000-square-foot building at any given time and will feature a VIP section with upgraded food options and perks.
He said the family intends on expanding even more with more locations throughout the Inland Empire.
As for building a standalone building, Gaitan said it came down to not wanting to rent a space, given the difficulties some restaurants have sticking as a renter.
Gaitan is confident about the business model that made the restaurant such a success in San Bernardino.
“We serve traditional Mexican cuisine in a family atmosphere,” he said. “We do a full bar and whatnot, but we try to cater to families and have a safe environment, a fun festive environment. We have a very upbeat staff to make an experience. We like to interact and get to know our clients, customers and take care of our employees. So, it’s more of a family feel rather than just a business.
“It’s a place where people can have comfort and have a great experience and get to know us,” Gaitan said. “Temecula’s a family-oriented city, which we love.”
Initially, they wanted to open in November 2019, but because they had to move water and utilities from across the street and were still going through the permitting process, they had to delay the opening.
“We had to bring over all the utilities and from the other side,” Gaitan said. “That side of the street now has internet, Wi-Fi, everything. They didn’t have it before. There was nothing on that side. So, we got the city to allow us to bring over the utilities.”
Gaitan said in the near future he expects to post now hiring signs when he gets a little more information about when the restaurant will officially open with soft openings and then a grand opening.
For more information on The Mexico Cafe, visit www.mexicocafe.biz.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.