From waiter to owner. Yearning to do what wasn’t possible en el pueblo.
You earn in a single day as a helper, what you make in a weekend as a waiter back home. It’s a temporary plan: To work from October to March.
Francisco Zuñiga, de Chapala, Jalisco, after 15 days emigrates his family. Dad’s dream has always been to open a restaurant. From waiter to captain, from captain to manager. Dad is the salesman, Mom is the perseverance. Mom keeps us going when we want to give up.
Most people never venture out, they say you need to have at least 6 months rent in case things don’t work out at first. We started with a prayer and a blessing. If I say we had 5thousand USD to start I may be overshooting. We paid a single month of rent and started with what we had.
When we opened mom was the cashier, Dad was the host and I was in the kitchen, at the bar, washing dishes. For as long as I can recall I wanted to be a Chef. When we had a big family meal I wanted to be the guy at the grill, the one who made the Guacamole.
We put the whole family’s savings into Los Barriles, money from my mom and sister’s laundromat, and a loan 1500 USD.
We used to drive by this place. Many businesses failed here, often the lot was abandoned. We used to dream this is where we’d start ours.
One day at the restaurant where dad worked a client walked in complaining about a tenant who owed him 3 months rent. He went on about kicking the person out. The property in dispute was co-incidently that lot we used to dream over. Where Barriles stands today.
We believe that you can attract what you desire. If you work hard and want it bad enough, you’ll call it. As a family, we always believed.
“If you work hard, and want it bad enough. It’ll come. That’s the Mexican Dream. It comes with grand effort.” it’s what we preach. The key has always been working together.”
Barriles first menu starts off with 60 different dishes. We had no idea what we were doing, we never thought about finances, never considered what things cost. It was all empirical. It was a mess, we had no idea what was going on. But we never fell into debt, somehow it always worked out. It wasn’t just the food, it wasn’t merely the service, what really did it was making friends. That’s what Americans are like, they really appreciate friendships.
Dad put on the menu everything tasty he ever encountered in his 15 years in the restaurant industry. Anything the client wanted was available. We wanted to serve everyone. From Thai to Italian, Steak and Hamburgers, Seafood, Mexican food, and Flameo. Everything that Dad knew was good was on the menu.
Our motto is: “Stop, drink and if I don’t have it, ill get it for you.” We once got fresh coconuts for a guy at 9 pm.
The Father and Son who fell in love with the restaurant industry.
After 10 years, Barriles has acquired traditions. Traditions we plan on keeping around.
“Ring the bell” As you walk in you ring the bell that hangs through the arch and we all clap. It’s our way to make you feel welcomed. When you leave, you ring the bell and we say see you soon and clap for the good times. After 10 years we see ourselves in the traditions.”
The Flameo is also sticking around, we take a mobile cartbarbecue to your table and cook the catch of the day or the customers own catch. It’s a show, we make Shrimp, Tuna, Cabrilla, Steak in a burst of fire tequila or white wine.
From father to son. Dad, Francisco Javier Zuñiga has 35 years of restaurant experience, he started working when he was 13. Francisco Javier Zuñiga Jr has been running around mom’s laundry mat since he was 8, learning the ropes of the family business.
Our Customers have seen us grown-up.
We feel indebted to our customers. It’s been a while since we’ve spruced up the place. But were proud to say that the land over which Barriles stands is finally our own. Customers cant see the investment of owning the property, but it means the world to us and it took a very big effort on behalf of my family. What Barriles makes in profit we’ve always put back into Barriles, now that we finally finished paying off the property, were going to make our effort show in our customers the experience. Well always be the corned “fonda”, we won’t rid Barriles of its original vision. We want to build a second story palapa so our customers get a view, wed be the first on this block to offer a view. The administration went from being a mess to having it so well handled that it feels like I can manage it with a magic wand. We’re finally after so many years at a point where we get to see the fruits of our labor. We’re together in this. In the good and the bad. We’ve made it, it’s our turn to give back. We’ve always been more than just a business. The point has always been to make a place worth being at. A better place to live. A better place to work.
We stopped comparing ourselves with others a long time ago. We stopped competing and decided to apart ourselves into a different market altogether. We work towards our customer’s satisfaction, we try to keep our staff happy, well trained, you pay for the service you get. We don’t ever negotiate quality. We want customers that can tell the difference.
I like to say our service is personalized. We tend to each customer as if he were the only one in the restaurant. Even if it’s a full house. Every night either Im here or my Dad is. If ever we’re not at the top of our game ill personally wait the table and pick up the slack.
We serve the tradition of a family business. The Father and Son who love restaurants. That’s what makes customers return 2-3 times a week. There are more than 300 restaurants in Los Cabos and our clients choose us time after time. We treat that preference with the utmost respect.
I buy from local fishermen, as a cook, I respect the product. We respect ingredients. Everything has a right way of doing it. We won’t throw away the hard work of everyone involved in bringing these ingredients to my kitchen. It won’t be us who ruins all that hard work. We respect the restaurant. Recipes flourish from experience. Every plate on the menu has been revisited one at a time. We go over every plate so that each and everyone is done right.
We cook it, taste it and try again, trial and error, iteratively. And we absolutely take into account our customer’s opinions of the dish. They’re a fundamental part of how we go about changes. Every plate on the menu has been corrected, detailed, and has our seal of approval.
A couple passed by as we spoke, and yelled out into the restaurant:
“I come here all the time, my favorite”.