If Cheers had an Instagram, we imagine it’d look something like what you’ll find over on La Huerta Fayetteville’s account: countless photos of friends gathered to enjoy good food and great atmosphere.
Meet Alejandro Ortiz, manager of La Huerta Fayetteville. In his five years at the restaurant, Alejandro has played a major role in keeping the quality of food + friendship found at La Huerta top notch.
Can you tell me a little about the history of the restaurant?
“The restaurant has been open since 1994. The Montes family has owned and operated it from the very beginning. They’ve opened other locations, but this is still their main one.
They’re originally from Jalisco, Mexico (San Jose is actually the town). They used to work with a family in…Tennessee, I think it was. And then they decided to move here and open this restaurant.
They had worked in restaurants before as managers and waiters, but this was the first one they actually owned.”
What is the hardest part about managing a restaurant?
“The hardest part? Hmm that’s a good question! I don’t know, maybe all the time that I spend at the restaurant. There are a lot of long hours, and it’s every day. I think that’s the hardest part.”
Especially if you have family at home!
“I do, but actually two of my sons work here. One is a waiter and the other is a cashier. So I get to see them at work a little bit.”
What is the best part of managing La Huerta?
“I think it has to be the people. I like to talk to the people, and believe it or not you end up kind of being part of their family, after knowing them for so long. You become more than friends, you know? Some of our customers are regulars and you just feel really good talking to them, they’re really friendly.”
Can you share some of your favorite customer stories?
“One of the most amazing things that’s happened to me is when I was in a shopping mall in Dallas, and some people recognized me from the restaurant. They came over to talk to me and even remembered my name. That was kind of crazy.
And then there is a couple who had their first date here. They would keep coming back and now they’re married. We even served at their wedding, so that’s another thing that’s been nice to see.
And always, one of my yearly highlights is Cinco de Mayo at La Huerta. Every year it’s really fun for me and it’s amazing, it’s a big party all day long and I’ve definitely enjoyed it.”
What’s one thing that you think people might not know about you or the restaurant?
“One thing that people might not know…I don’t know…maybe that I’m the manager. A lot of people think that I’m the owner because I’m here all the time and talking to people. They’ll ask me if I’m the owner, but no, I’m the manager!
For the restaurant it’s the fact that we make fresh food every day. We try to not do anything pre-cooked or pre-made, we cook most of the food fresh each day.
And we use brands that have good quality food, even if they’re more expensive. I mean, just in the last four or five years a lot of chip products have come into the market, but their quality is not that good. A lot of restaurants go for it, but in the end when it’s on your plate and in your food, they don’t taste the same.
So at this restaurant, we don’t care about spending a little bit more on our products because we try to have better quality food. Especially with our queso, we buy the most expensive ingredients, because it’s just a better quality and tastes the best.”
Is there anything else you think I should include?
“We do cater! A lot of people might not know that, but we can cater weddings, Christmas parties, all kinds of different events. None of the other restaurants the family owns do catering except for us. We have all kinds of food options, from vegetarian to gluten free. Our menu can accommodate people’s diets or allergies.”
Whether you’re looking for a good time with friends, chips + queso that won’t disappoint, or sopapillas for your next sorority event, you can find it at La Huerta!