The former location of the "revered" Pizza Inn on South Main is slated to open as El Jalapeno in the next few weeks. Owner Luis Gomez is the proprietor of several other Mexican restaurants in Georgia and Alabama, and is very excited about his latest venture.
"I began looking in Statesboro two years ago," he said. "It is a great town that truly likes Mexican food. With over 20,000 college students and a great, steady economy, I am very excited about being here."
Gomez has worked in the restaurant business for over 30 years.
A native of Colombia, South America, Gomez began working in restaurants while living in California. The Cal State Fullerton graduate began as a dishwasher working his way up into management while attending college.
"I graduated with an accounting degree, and decided after a year of working in a bank that it really wasn't for me," he said. "I wanted to do something that allowed me to be around people. That is why I love this business."
Gomez is reclaiming the building giving it an "adobe" southwestern look with a bright interior.
"When I first walked into this building, the arches caught my eye," he said. "It is just perfect for a Mexican restaurant. I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they come in and see just how nice it looks. It is going to be very bright and cheerful."
Gomez said El Jalapeno will be able to seat 160 patrons and will have a full bar. It will be open Monday through Sunday for both lunch and dinner beginning at 11 a.m.
"We intend to hire locally, and will make sure that everyone is very well trained," he said.
Gomez is particularly proud of the restaurant's chips and salsa.
"Ours are the best chips and salsa that you will ever eat," he said. "Our guacamole is excellent also. Everything will be very good."
In my humble opinion, we have some very good Mexican restaurants in Statesboro.
I say, let the salsa "wars" begin. I will be a willing participant.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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