Chico’s | Greenville, NC
An Authentic & Independent Stronghold
When asked to divulge his secret to success, Adrian Vargas, co-owner of Chico’s Mexican Restaurant in Greenville, North Carolina, doesn’t hesitate. “Let me put it this way: I haven’t hired a cook in six years,” he boasts, equating the success of his restaurant to the longevity and happiness of its employees. Adrian and his partner pride themselves on above-industry-average treatment of their staff. All Chico’s employees work one of two shifts per day (even on Saturdays) and get two days off per week.
“We treat them well,” says Adrian. “They work reasonable hours and they get to go home and spend time with their families. They’re happy here.”
Customers are happy, too, because they’ve learned to expect consistency from Chico’s. Adrian and his partner run a smooth ship in terms of operations, and with his grassroots experience in the kitchen and his partner’s extensive front-of-house knowledge, the staff at Chico’s benefits from well-informed training and the customers profit from a reliable experience.
“I’m hands-on,” says Adrian, who oversees everything from ordering to training to menu maintenance. “And I’m all about quality and consistency. We have strict pours at the bar and we use the freshest ingredients in all of our dishes. Our customers get their money’s worth.”
In Greenville, North Carolina – home of the East Carolina Panthers – competition can be surprisingly steep for a Mexican establishment. As quick service chain restaurants invade the town, college students have easy access to multitudes of $5 meals, and suddenly $9 for a margarita isn’t too appealing. “It’s a challenge for us,” Adrian admits, noting that Greenville has over 300 restaurants and a population of only about 80,000.
But that doesn’t stop the Chico’s team from putting quality first. “A lot of restaurants use easy-melt cheese for everything,” says Adrian. “Last year, I went through 24,000 pounds of real cheese – Cheddar and Monterey Jack.” The team even grates the cheese themselves. Each week, they also dice roughly 30 cases of tomatoes just for their salsa and mash over 10 cases of avocados for Guacamole.
Adrian notes, “Customers say they love to go to Chico’s because they never find a piece of gristle in their fajitas – our food is fresh and good quality. I like to use 8 - 10 oz. chicken breast because it’s tender and juicy compared to the larger sizes. We don’t cut corners.”
In addition to the chicken breast used in fajitas and other dishes, Chico’s also boils whole chickens for enchilada and taco meat. “I think I went through 30 chickens today!” he says. They even bread and fry the shrimp for the shrimp tacos themselves, which Adrian says helps the team accommodate for customers’ preferences and specifications, in terms of spice, for example.
When asked if there’s anything on the menu that Adrian orders pre-prepared, he solemnly concedes, “We do buy chicken fingers and French fries. But that’s all!”
- Author: Liz Avera
- Posted: July 14, 2016
- Categories: In Our Communities, VOL 4 - ISSUE 3 • SUMMER 2016