Añejos | Sartell, MN
Authentic Margaritas & Classic Cuisine
When you’re a Mexican-born restaurant operator trying to make it in the Mexican restaurant industry in the States, keep one thing in mind: you won’t necessarily be making a whole lot of Mexican food.
“It’s not really, really authentic,” says Ramon Navarro, owner of Añejos restaurant in Sartell, Minn., of his restaurant’s fare. “But it’s what the people know and want. Where I’m from,” he innocently quips, “we don’t eat Chimichangas.”
They may not enjoy deep-fried burritos in Michoacán, Mexico – Ramon’s home state – but they do drink añejo. Lacking a direct English translation, “añejo” is an adjective most often associated with extra-aged, high-quality tequila. And tequila is what Ramon’s team does best.
“We are one of two places in Minnesota to stock the Jose Cuervo Limited Edition, extra añejo tequila,” boasts Ramon, “which runs at a list price of $2,250 per bottle.”
Unlike most Mexican restaurants in the U.S., Añejos makes its margaritas with freshly squeezed lime and orange juices, along with a variety of high quality – rather, añejo – tequilas. “People love our margaritas,” says Ramon. “We have a lot of pride in them.”
Ramon immigrated to the United States from Michoacán, Mexico and began his restaurant career soon after arriving. From washing dishes to bussing tables to serving patrons and eventually managing multiple establishments owned by friends, Ramon worked his way up the ladder throughout the Midwest and eventually landed in Minnesota.
“When we opened [Añejos],” he says, “I called my friends from all the different restaurants I’d worked in, and I hired the best employees I knew.” Ramon then proceeded to rent space in a building that had seen three restaurants fail. “A lot of people didn’t believe in me,” he remembers. “They said, ‘he’s not smart, he’s not gonna make it.” Many of the current Añejos employees were part of the group that opened the restaurant and proved the non-believers wrong. Ramon calls them family.
Located smack dab in the middle of Minnesota, in a town of roughly 17,000 called Sartell, Añejos has thrived even in a building that has seen many restaurants fail. But Ramon can’t tell you much more than that about his home, despite having lived there for over three years now. “I just work every day,” he says. “I get in at 9 AM and we finish around 10 or 11 at night.”
Luckily, Ramon’s wife and two adult daughters work at the restaurant, too, and his younger teenage children help out around the restaurant when they aren’t too busy with school. “I’m teaching [my kids] how money is made, teaching them the value of work,” Ramon says. “And, truthfully,” he adds, “no one sees it as my restaurant. It’s ours.”
- Author: Liz Avera
- Posted: July 14, 2016
- Categories: In Our Communities, VOL 4 - ISSUE 3 • SUMMER 2016