Eva and Armando Ornelas are first-time restaurant owners.
Salem Statesman Journal
Armando and Eva Ornelas, who opened Las Gorditas Ricas in January, quickly made an impression on Salem with their take on gorditas; crispy masa pockets stuffed with juicy meat, cheese and fresh salsa.
They’ve begun working on a second location, but don’t gear up for a sit-down gordita date.
“It’s not a restaurant,” said Armando. “The market and the nation, we’re moving away from that.”
Though Las Gorditas Ricas has held tight through the pandemic, largely by pivoting to take-out and delivery and adding a walk-up service window, the Ornelas see no reason to prioritize the dine-in model of the pre-pandemic restaurant industry.
The Chubby Bean, as the new business will be called, will exclusively offer drive-through service.
Armando said the new business is a blend of the concept behind Las Gorditas Ricas and the standard coffee drive-through experience.
The thing that distinguishes it from Vicoricos, Tony’s Tacos, Habanero’s and Muchas Gracias – all pre-pandemic drive-through Mexican restaurants – The Chubby Bean will have no indoor seating area at all.
“It’s strictly a drive-through,” Armando said.
The Ornelas are working with Salem-based builder 20 Twenty Sustainable Manufacturing Inc. to build a 28-foot long building with two drive-up windows at 3545 Portland Road NE.
Because the space is small, Armando said, they need to keep the menu short to be manageable in a small kitchen, so they’re focusing on top-selling menu items with a focus on portability.
“Our goal is to serve a customer in three minutes, no more,” he said, so in addition to coffee and energy drinks The Chubby Bean will offer burritos, tacos and nachos. “We’re not even going to sell gorditas.”
Considering the excitement for coffee plus tamales at Brotherhood Coffee, Israel and Eduardo Garcia’s drive-through coffee shop at Commercial and Madrona Avenue SE, the Ornelas may be onto something.
They hope to open The Chubby Bean early in 2021.
Emily Teel is the Food & Drink Editor at the Statesman Journal. Contact her at email@example.com, Facebook, or Twitter. See what she’s cooking and where she’s eating this week on Instagram: @emily_teel
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