By Kelley Atherton
It's not Jorge Gonzalez's dream location, but it'll do for right now.
Gonzalez opened a Mexican restaurant, Gordi Bro's, a few weeks ago at Elk Valley and Howland Hill roads, but hopes to be in a much larger spot by next July.
He needs to save some money to complete his plans for a "grub and pub" downtown. In the meantime, he opened his restaurant where Lil Piggies BBQ used to be.
It's going well so far, Gonzalez said, adding the restaurant has met or exceeded his daily sales goal.
"I wanted something small, but good," Gonzalez said. "A small risk, but high volume."
Starting this weekend, Gonzalez will have a few beer and wine options available.
Born and raised in Smith River, Gonzalez has wanted to open a restaurant since his family's restaurant, Maria's, closed in 1997.
In the meantime, he moved to Sacramento to be a real estate manager and developer. When the housing market turned sour, he headed home and started working on a business plan for an authentic Mexican restaurant with traditional dishes from Michoacan (where his family is from originally).
Gordi Bro's features a small menu: asada (steak) or adovada (marinated pork) tacos, chavindeca (quesadillas) made with asada or adovada and Rumiano Cheese Monterey jack or pepper jack, ceviche tostada shrimp, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, lime and avocado salad on top a crispy tortilla and albondiga (meatball) soup. In addition, Gordi Bro's has a special every day except Wednesdays.
The adovada is Gonzalez's mother Rosalinda's own recipe and she's also the cook. He boasts that the corn tortillas are homemade and everything is made fresh every day. Gonzalez said he wants to use as many local products as possible.
If everything goes as planned, Gonzalez wants to turn Gordi Bro's into a sports pub at a downtown location. About a year ago after returning from Sacramento, he started working on his dream restaurant and even found a spot downtown.
However, city requirements would have forced Gonzalez to redo the plumbing and electrical systems before he could open.
Since he hadn't budgeted for that, he's trying to save enough money with the current restaurant to work on the project over the next year and open by July 4 somewhere downtown.
"New things were added, raising the budget slowly, but surely," Gonzalez said. "We weren't ready for this Fourth of July, but within a year we'll be ready."
His goal is to reopen with a bigger variety of food, beer and wine, a big screen for watching sports, live music and more seating. (Sports, especially soccer, is important to Gonzalez's family. He's a coach for the boy's varsity soccer team at Del Norte High School.)
While, he wants his place open late on weekends for the after-dinner crowd, Gonzalez said it'll be family-oriented during the day.
"A place where the kids can play foosball while their parents have a beer," he said.
Downtown is the perfect location, Gonzalez said, because there's not a lot of restaurants or places open late.
"I want to help revitalize downtown," he said. "Every other city has a downtown that's alive. Here, it dies after business time."
Five years down the road, once he "generates the revenue and customers," Gonzalez has even bigger plans to develop an in-door sports complex with a restaurant, bar/lounge and banquet room.
The idea is to have "everything in one big building," he said.
The lounge area would be a more relaxed environment like a coffeehouse with couches and a stage for live music or open mic "jam sessions."
The restaurant would bring in the revenue, so the sports portion would be free for kids to use for games and practices. He wants to continue doing what he knows (managing restaurants), but also do something for local kids.
Gonzalez said he knows the trouble kids can get into without something to occupy their time, and this could "get kids off the street and out of trouble."
Rainy weather is an excuse kids often use when complaining about not having enough to do, he said. An indoor sports facility would help to remedy that.
For more information about Gordi Bro's, visit the Web site at www.gordi-bros.com or call 464-1325.