By Pueng Vongs | February 1st, 2010
By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.; Member: SPJ National Diversity Committee and Latino Journalists of California; editor: San Diego News Service. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Dieo — Southwest, so-called “Mexican,” restaurants and fast-food places are found in every city, but many serve an “Americanized” menu.
A 30-year-old handsome Mexican is running perhaps one of the most unique Mexican restaurants here, that again demonstrates that diversity in a business can lead to a huge success.
Juan Pablo Sanchez operates the Super-Cocina (translated: Super-Food) restaurant in the multi-ethnic City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. It’s located at 3627 University Avenue.
He took over from his father, Fernando, about five years ago. He holds a degree in political science from the University of California at San Diego.
Sanchez had an unusual idea for operating his restaurant: He decided NOT to hire professional cooks. Instead, he hires only local housewives who cook the 180 dishes on the basic menu; and who cook as if they were at home. It brings new meaning to the often abused marketing phrase: “home-cooking.”
With only housewives doing the cooking, the same dish can taste differently one day to the next, just like in the cooks’ homes.
The system works. His customers are a very diverse community. While Latinos remain the core, repeat clientele at Super-Cocina, about 60 percent of the patrons “now range from lots of Anglos to foreign-born immigrants from India, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and even Greece,” Sanchez said in an interview for this report. “The diversity of our customers has increased dramatically (in the past year),” he added.
“When I tell my Anglo friends about Super-Cocina, I’m surprised how many already know about it,” says Ezequiel Serrano Gonzales, 27, of Hillcrest, about five miles from the City Heights location of the unique restaurant.
One of the more popular items on the varied menu doesn’t even sound Mexican. “Chile Colorado.” It is spelled the same in Spanish or English.
Every day there are about 10 different Mexican dishes on the menu, all prepared by housewives in the restaurant’s, large kitchen.
Super-Cocina is decorated as if it were in “La Cuidad de Mexico” (Mexico City). Indeed, Sanchez often returns to the Mexican capital where he buys herbs and spices that are not found in the United States.
With a widely diverse customer base and the restaurant’s popularity spreading city-wide, it now has a growing, catering service; about 70 percent are corporate and non-profits.
From a list of 180 different dishes, 18 are offered every day plus an ala carte, Sanchez reports.
At least ten other items are also provided for breakfast.
“The food really tastes like it was prepared in a home in the interior of Mexico,” says Martin Bricksonof San Diego, a retired engineer who once lived deep inside the country.
Contact Leo Laurence at email@example.com