NAME: ALEJANDRO MARTINEZ
Job: Co-owner, Mariachi's at 400 S. Illinois St. in Belleville (236-9492) and 2922 N. Center St. in Maryville (288-6300)
Outlook: "I like talking with customers, making them happy enjoying the food."
Alejandro Martinez has always enjoyed cooking and serving homemade food. It was why he started working in the restaurant business many years ago and enjoys operating his two metro-east Mexican restaurants. He recently sat down with business writer Will Buss at his Maryville restaurant to talk about it:
How long have you been a restaurateur?
"Almost 11 years at the restaurant in Belleville."
How long have you had the restaurant in Maryville?
"Almost two years."
How long have you been working in the industry?
"Since I was 18."
What drew you to it?
"I don't know. The opportunity came and I talked to my partner in Belleville. We used to work together and we would talk about getting a small place to start out, and then the opportunity came in Belleville. It was small in the beginning. When we opened in Belleville, we really weren't making it. But then it started picking up little my little. I was cooking, and he was the waiter. Then we got busier and busier and started getting more business."
What has been the secret to your success?
"I think it's because we always focus on the service. We never change our recipes. With our food and service, we always make sure everything is fine."
Where did you get your recipes?
"I got them from working in restaurants. I worked in Chicago."
Have you only worked in Mexican restaurants?
"No, I have worked in American restaurants, too, with big restaurants in Chicago that had specials that were Mexican food."
What is your most popular dish at Mariachi's?
"I would say the fajita burrito."
The fajita burrito? Is that a fajita and a burrito in one?
"Yes. It is pretty much the most popular."
What do you enjoy most about your business?
"I like talking with customers, making them happy enjoying the food. I like when they ask me questions about the food. I like when they compare our margaritas. They like to know what we use."
What's your secret?
"We use very expensive tequila. It makes a big difference. Some people ask me how come we don't do a dollar margarita? And I tell them the tequila we use, the lowest we can go is $2.50. We can't go lower than that."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.