1870 Mag

More Than Just a Good Margarita: South Campus Gateway’s New Cazuela’s

BY MADISON GILLOTTE | PHOTOS BY ASH GERLACH

South Campus Gateway’s newest Cazuela’s Mexican Grill welcomes in students with open arms.

Prior to the newest Cazuela’s opening, I met with owner Carlos Barajas. When I walked through the door, I was stunned. The restaurant is beautiful and modern, with glass Patrón bottles filled with greenery centering every table and curved bar tops that transcend the average rectangle. It feels nothing like the other locations I visited, and I was so pleased with the refreshing challenge they took on. Barajas excitedly sat with me in a booth to chat and we started talking as though we’d been friends for years.

I asked Barajas why he wanted to own this particular location as a restaurant and he surprised me with his answer. Owning such a successful campus favorite, I expected him to have many locations under his belt, but this is just the third of a growing company.

“I really like the new challenges,” he said cheerfully. “This is a way to meet more people and have new experiences. My life has been special thanks to all the people I know.”

I saw the purpose Barajas had in mind when he bought this location; he wants to be there for the students. A place for people to enjoy community and feel at home. His customers are good friends whom he strives to know well.

He beamed, “We care for them all [our customers] and we are open to learn from and enjoy thoughts from everyone. We want everyone to feel welcome. This place is beautiful in the sense that we have tables for all ages. We have cool seats, seats for elderly, party seats, and more. We have something here for everyone.”

No more driving 20 minutes away to a restaurant good enough for your parents to dine at. Shoot the breeze about school and post-grad plans over a margarita and salsa in Gateway’s newest watering hole.

The owner avidly claims that he wants to “implement a system of friendliness and family that reaches from the smiles of the employees to the smiles of the customers.”

But that’s not the only thing that makes this place special. Unlike your average handful of fast food chains on High Street, everything made in the kitchen will be made from scratch.

“We don’t like to use anything premade and if the kitchen is not clean,” he chuckles, “I won’t work there, so we pride ourselves on being clean. We are proud to say we even use mouth covers in the kitchen to handle food carefully.”

Upon asking why he wanted to open this store, he stated, “We have a passion for the food and drinks here. I am proud of my culture and excited to share it with everyone. […] I have been serving and bartending for 18 years and the most important thing I’ve learned was that when you meet people, what they do and think… It’s [more] exciting when they are different.”

Americans have a shameful tendency of stereotyping a culture down to a single image, but Barajas believes he can open minds and build up the Mexican restaurant-image to students through great cultural food and heartfelt customer service.

“Mexico is more than just hats. We want to show this new aspect to our culture and share the modern side with our customers.”

He went on to discuss how he brings this aspect into the food and drinks served here. Personally, his favorite dish is not the current fan favorite because he “loves the extreme.” If customers who want to experience new flavors come by, he suggests they should try the barbacoa soup or the carnitas dinner.

If you are looking for a fun place to take the gang with employees who truly make you feel like you matter, I wholeheartedly suggest Cazuela’s on south campus. Barajas and all of his staff will be there to welcome you with a smiling face, ready to share their stories and listen to yours. This is the place to go if you want to feel like you are heard, to learn about other cultures, and most of all, eat delicious food.

Cazuela’s Mexican Grill in the campus Gateway will be open this October on the corner of High Street and 10th Ave.

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