“We opened…and business went BOOM!”
“We opened Casa Grande and business went ‘BOOM!’ People really like us.”
This is how Rosalio Sanchez describes his foray into restaurant ownership five years ago. He is owner-manager of Casa Grande Mexican Grill & Bar, located just off the interstate near Gas City, Indiana. To say the business keeps him busy would be an understatement. We caught up with Rosalio recently when he stopped by GMI to make final changes on the menu for a sixth restaurant he and his business partners were getting ready to open.
“It’s a lot of work,” Rosalio says, describing his experience of the hospitality industry. “I try to take off one day a week. Time with my family is hard to come by. My wife and I split up responsibilities at home, but more time with my kids is something I wish for.”
Yet he finds a lot to love about the job. “It’s been good. I like this. I stay focused. I enjoy talking with customers. I find out some of their history. And my staff is very loyal. I don’t have problems with employees. I try to pay them well—that’s my crew! I used to work in the kitchen so I know what it’s like.”
Rosalio got his start in the hospitality business when he was in high school. At age 16 he began bussing tables at Los Tapatios in Greenwood, Indiana, south of Indianapolis. At 19, he moved 90 minutes north to Kokomo to work with his older brother, who was then first chef at El Arriero Mexican Restaurant. “I’ve followed in the same steps as my brother ever since,” he says.
After seven years in numerous positions at El Arriero, Rosalio moved an hour east again to join his brother, who had gone into business with Manuel Rodriquez, their boss at Kokomo, to open Ciudad Colonial Mexican Restaurant in Muncie, Indiana. Rosalio worked in Muncie for two years before opportunity knocked again.
He joined the business partnership and helped scout prospective locations for a new store. In 2010, the partners stumbled across a promising spot near Interstate 69. The location proved ideal and Casa Grande became an overnight success story.
Rosalio and his partners did not stop there. They opened more restaurants in Indiana: Casa del Sol in Muncie, El Metate in Fairmount and La Cabaña in Indianapolis have all proved successful; two other ventures closed when results did not meet expectations. “I learn by doing,” Rosalio says. And he keeps doing.
When Casa Real opens, it will mark the partners’ sixth Mexican restaurant. Three of these are located in communities with a population of 6,000 or less. The reception there has been warm. “The mayor came out and had a picture taken with us,” Rosalio says of one grand opening. “We made the front page of the local newspaper. Many people sent flowers and notes of congratulations.”
MAKE YOUR MENUS COUNT
GMI has been the menu company of choice for Rosalio and his partners for each of their locations. “I’ve always worked with Graphic Menus,” Rosalio volunteers. “They do a good job and use lots of custom photos. Many Mexican restaurants have very plain menus. We get a much better presentation with GMI. People will often see a photo in the menu and say, ‘I want this.’ It makes for a great presentation.”