Milton Guevara got a start in restaurant business at Illegal Pete’s about 22 years ago, and now he’s ready to dish out his own “mission-style” burritos with a touch of cactus. Guevara will open Nopalito’s on Tuesday at Boulder’s Diagonal Plaza indoor mall to fulfill his long-standing ambition of serving great food at low prices.
“I think serving people good food is my calling,” said Guevara, who started as a dishwasher and became a manager at Illegal Pete’s.
The fast-casual concept restaurant, where everything will be under $10, will be in the location previously occupied by Sancho’s Mexican restaurant. Guevara said he’s relying on the mantra his family and friends gave him — “Do things correctly. Never cut corners” — to run his maiden business venture.
“I’ll keep it simple,” he said.
He credits Illegal Pete’s for sparking in him a passion for foods. The restaurant business can be tricky, but it boils down to serving great food to people and treating them fairly, said Guevara, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador as a kid.
“I’m excited about fulfilling my American dream.”
He plans to operate Nopalito’s from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Guevara has “a good shot at being successful,” said Bob Binsfeld, owner of Rocky Mountain Time Zone, located slightly opposite Guevara’s restaurant. Sancho’s owner Shawn Camden left the spot not for want of customers, but due to uncertainty about the lease and a remodeling project that never happened, Binsfeld said.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic at the mall,” he said, referring to the driver’s license office next door, and the Colorado Driving Institute.
The mall gets people of all ages, Binsfeld said. It’s more a destination mall than a retail spot, given the nature of businesses located there, he said. There’s a beauty salon, Arrowhead Awards and Boulder Trophy Shop, and a clock repair shop, among others, said Binsfeld, who has been at the mall since December 1989. (He started with a jewelry store that closed after 5½ years when one of his partners had a heart attack).
Guevara’s dream was six years in the making, said his wife, Dora, who is helping market Nopalito’s on social media, particularly Instagram. It has come together piece by piece, she said, before Guevara chimed in with details of how he looked for restaurant equipment and furniture at auctions and on Craigslist to keep down startup costs.
“We are a small family business. We don’t have millions of dollars to back us. All I have is me, my family, and God,” he said.