Diana and Omar Lopez are welcoming the community to Mi Chavelita Mexican Grill this week, a little more than a month after the couple parted ways with their former business partners and closed Salsa St. Mexican Grill.
Located at 1120 Commercial St., the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Thursday and will be offering the same menu that made it a popular destination in downtown Emporia. A grand opening is set for 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday.
“Our partner was leaving and the name, he was taking it with him,” Diana Lopez said. “[Omar] is keeping his food. These are his recipes that he came up with in the beginning, since day one. So, it wasn’t really much of a change. It feels great to know people are excited for us to come back. It makes us feel really happy and more excited to give it all we got, and [we] just really appreciate everybody being there and waiting for us.”
Originally planning for a Jan. 4 opening, Omar Lopez said the holidays slowed down permits and licensing. Although they are a little behind schedule, he’s excited to get everything back in action in the kitchen.
And, to show off the new name and logo — which he designed. The logo features a woman in traditional sugar skull makeup surrounded by red flowers.
“I’m Mexican and for me to be connected to my roots is really important,” he said. “The Day of the Dead is something that we respect a lot, and something they would like to have in my culture to give it to my kids and that’s why there’s the skull beside the flowers.”
Omar Lopez said the red flowers are in honor of his mother. The new name? Well, that’s a show of affection for his wife, although she’s not completely on board with that just yet. Omar said his wife’s middle name is Isabel. In Mexico the name “Chavela” is a nickname for Isabel.
“She don’t like the name Isabel. I love the name, I really like it,” he said. “That’s how I came up with that with the name ‘Mi Chavelita,’ because my wife, that’s one of the most important things to me.”
While Omar recognized that his wife wasn’t a fan of name, he’s hoping that the restaurant’s success will turn her opinion around eventually.
“My hope is the same way that we succeeded with Salsa Street, I would like to do the same thing [with Mi Chavelita],” Omar said. “I hope everybody enjoyed what we used to do, and I hope this time be the same.”
Mi Chavelita will be offering dine-in, carry out and curbside options, with old favorites like burritos, tacos, bowls and hot soups coming back to the menu. Omar will gradually start adding new items to the menu as everything gets back up to speed in the kitchen.
The Lopezes are also excited to offer alcoholic beverages, including margaritas and mixed drinks, starting in February.
Mi Chavelita is also one of the newest businesses to join Emporia Main Street.
“We are happy that this opening coincides with start of the spring semester at Emporia State University,” Main Street Executive Director Casey Woods said in a written release. “We understand how popular their menu is with students and community members alike. We are excited to have Mi Chavelita Mexican Grill as a member of our organization.”
Mi Chavelita will be open 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Saturday, and the Lopezes hope to be able to increase hours as the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
COVID precautions are being taken, with staff sanitizing all the tables and chairs after guests leave a table, hand sanitizing stations at the entrance of the restaurant and register, and nightly deep cleaning of the location. Customers are also asked to wear a mask while patronizing the business.
For more information on Mi Chavelita Mexican Grill, please contact Diana or Omar Lopez by phone at 620-208-6060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Mi Chavelita Mexican Grill on Facebook and visit www.michavelitamexicangrill.com to view the menu.