By Kacey Wilson

Meliza Miranda and her brother, Jorge Cota, had been planning to open a modern Mexican restaurant in Peoria for quite some time.

They weren’t about to let even a pandemic stop them from launching Mochilero Kitchen.

“We already have our A-team,” Miranda says. “So why not just go ahead and open for takeout and delivery?”

“The grand opening is not exactly how we planned it,” Cota says. “But my family and the team members we’ve hired have worked too hard for us not to give it our all.”

So they launched Mochilero Kitchen April 8 at 6791 W. Happy Valley Road.

For now, customers can call the store at 623.440.5588 or visit mochilerokitchen.com from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday to order.

The Peoria siblings had long dreamed of owning and operating a restaurant together. Miranda said their dream was of “amazing food and excellent customer service.”

For months, they meticulously planned the location, the equipment, the staff and the decor for Mochilero Kitchen.

With orders from the governor for food to be takeout and delivery only, the Mochilero menu was adapted so that everything travels well, yet, according to Cota, “is delicious and healthy for our community.”

During the grand opening, customers lined up—6 feet apart to maintain social distancing—outside for the first orders of tacos, burritos, bowls, soups and salads, and even beers and cocktails, all to go.

The event was also livestreamed on Facebook, where viewers could win meals as well as nominate other families in need to receive free food from the restaurant.

Customers also went to Facebook to write comments on the Mochilero Kitchen page.

“Dinner was outstanding. We are so lucky to have you in the neighborhood!” Kimberly Sivey says.

“Felicidades…mucho exito!” Jorge Miranda writes.

The grand opening was successful, Cota says. The restaurant made over $500 in the first hour and doubled the anticipated sales by the end of the day.

While the opening went well, the brother and sister say they wait for the day their customers can get the whole experience and the whole menu, which will feature items including short rib chile rib negro bowl and papa brava crujiente taco.

Cota said he is anxious to see customers’ reactions when they first walk in, because he is very proud of the ambience he and his sister have created.

They both say they are eager for the community to see and taste the original menu items they have worked so hard to create—the unmoveable part of their feast.

“Obviously, the presentations are going to look beautiful, but at the end of the day, the techniques are still true to how they do it in Mexico,” Jorge says. “And we are just throwing in our twist.”

Mochilero Kitchen, 6791 W. Happy Valley Road, Peoria, 623.440.5588, mochilerokitchen.com.

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