Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fresco? It means fresh, fresh, fresh

Marcos Rojas, the co-owner of Fresco Mexican, isn't just a one-menu kind of guy.

"I'm able to cook French, Italian, American," says Rojas, who recently took the idea of his Fresco de Noche restaurant from Flanders and made another one right here in Chester, changing the name only slightly.

"But I always focused more on what we do best, which is Mexican," he says, "It's actually our home cooking."

Rojas, who owns the business with his partner, Carlos Cervantes, has a full staff, many of whom he moved from the Flanders restaurant to the Chester spot, which has had a steady stream of customers since its April opening.

"Right after Cinco de Mayo, we got down to our standard sales, because we were building, building, building business on an incline all the way to Cinco de Mayo," Marcos says as a large crowd of customers step inside, requesting outdoor seating.

"On Cinco de Mayo, we had tremendous sales. We had a live singer over here. I had another live singer in the other place in Flanders, and both places were packed."

He attributes the success of this new restaurant with the fact that a lot of the people who used to go to the Flanders restaurant were Chester residents, so it only made sense to open a shop here.

"I was looking in this area specifically because 20 percent of our regular customers in Flanders were from here," Rojas says, "and we know they needed a place like this."

But don't think you'll walk inside and find a typical Tex-Mex menu with chimichangas and gorditas and the like, because Fresco Mexican sells only exactly what its name suggests — fresh Mexican food, not processed food.

"Tex-Mex is pretty much what some restaurants do — fast food, fried, in and out," Rojas says, "They diversify the flavor with a lot of cheese and with seasonings like cumin."

But, he explains, "Our cuisine is authentic, and in other words, our flavors are bold. Our cuisine isn't hot at all unless you request it."

And what a cuisine it is!

From the chips (homemade, of course), to the guacamole (also homemade, as is everything here), your taste buds will somersault when they savor how different and, most importantly, fresh all of the ingredients are. You might even think that you're trying a whole new sort of food if all you've ever had is fast-food Mexican.

"We have the skirt steak — that's the most popular," Rojas says, "It's a very popular dish, and we call it the carne asada, and the flavor of it is so rich, so flavorful that we only add a little seasoning to it."

Another popular dish here is the enchiladas, which may be a bit different than the ones you've had before.

"It's just corn tortilla stuffed with chicken and cheese. We bake that with red sauce, green sauce or mole," he says as his faces lightens up when he mentions mole (pronounced MOW-lay).

"Our mole sauce," he continues, nodding his head as if there's a secret code behind its deliciousness, "People who know the mole sauce are the ones who have more taste for very fresh flavors."

The chefs at Fresco Mexican will change the menu just for you, giving you even more accessibility to their diverse menu.

"A lot of people are allergic to flour," Rojas says, "and since we make everything to order, we can make it without flour."

He also caters to vegan tastes.

"A lot of people are vegetarian," Rojas says, "Our menu can be customized to be vegetarian. So it's very diverse. We have a chance to do everything."

Rojas is not only a great cook and boss, but also a great planner, with goals to reach out to the overall community in Chester.

"My friend is working on this idea to do a customer appreciation week," Rojas says. "I'm going to ask the town and the smaller businesses if they'll allow me to do a that, where we can bring a mariachi band, and we'd do, like, a cookout in the back, for free for a couple hours, so anybody can be welcome to our cuisine for different vendors in
the area in a fiesta way, in a mariachi time. So they can come over, enjoy, dance if they may and have fun with everybody."

Rojas would like to do all of this because he both respects and loves the town of Chester, which has given him so much, both in business and friendships.

"It's a wonderful town. People are so friendly," Rojas says. "What I like about this place is that everybody knows each other. I didn't have to advertise at this place. All of our customers were referred by other customers, so it was word of mouth."

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