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ARCHIVED  January 1, 1997

Oui, senor: restaurant switches to Mexican

FORT COLLINS — When A.B. Tellez, then general manager of Pour la France restaurant, began serving a few Mexican specialties to regular customers at Pour la France, the response was enthusiastic.

Then, at an employee meeting, Tellez questioned the restaurant’s 43 employees on their food preferences. The overwhelming response was in favor of Mexican cooking over French cuisine.

Convinced by friends and Kerry Plemmons, president of Pour la France Inc., that a Mexican restaurant was a sound business idea, Tellez jumped at the chance to make it a reality.

Because the Pour la France restaurant in Fort Collins was struggling financially, the most logical choice was to close it and reopen a Mexican restaurant in its place. The Saltillo Grill opened in November 1996 on the northwest corner of College and Mountain Avenues in Fort Collins.

Authentic Mexican art and family photos on the walls, lively music and colorful banners on the ceiling give the restaurant a festive spirit and welcoming atmosphere. The menu offers traditional Mexican specialties, prepared from authentic family recipes, such as Red Snapper with citrus achiote marinade or Top Sirloin served with chipotle sauce and chile verde.

Complementing the food is a margarita for every budget and taste, from the CSU (Cheap, Strong, Unrivaled) to the Patron Bandera. The Bandera is the red, white and green flag of Mexico, represented by a shot of red sangrita, a shot of Patron tequila and a shot of fresh lime juice.

Mexican food aficionados may be familiar with the terms and techniques used in Mexican cooking, but for those who aren’t and are interested, the staff of the Saltillo Grill is prepared to answer questions.

“We went through intense training for about a week so we really learned everything about the menu. It was wonderfully helpful,´ said employee Valerie Roker, “and the customer response has been incredible.”

As an owner-operator of the new Saltillo Grill, Tellez wants to run a restaurant that provides not only excellent authentic Mexican food but superior service as well.

“The service has to be there. We didn’t want to have just good food, Tellez said. “We want to greet the customers with a little something extra so they’ll come back.”

While most restaurants have one waitperson covering five tables, Tellez has assigned three-table sections to his employees. Although initially this means serving fewer people and having more staff to serve them, Tellez feels that in the long run, he’ll have more satisfied customers returning because of better service.

Opening the Saltillo Grill across the street from the Rio Grande Mexican restaurant may have seemed risky to some, but Tellez feels that there is enough demand in Fort Collins to support another Mexican restaurant.

Corinne Govan, spokesperson for the Rio Grande, agrees. “They really have had no effect on our business,” she said.

Tellez said it’s important to understand the preferences of your target audience. Saltillo Grill has been targeting business people and the college crowd but intends to extend its customer base to senior citizens and people on the south end of Fort Collins.

Within the next month, he hopes to open for breakfast on weekends. “There are so many people who get out early to do things on the weekend,” Tellez said. “There’s a market here for breakfast, and there really is no Mexican breakfast in Fort Collins.”

To capture more of the college crowd, Tellez hopes to open a Saltillo Grill stand on campus with a burrito-to-go type menu.

Asked about his goals for the future, Tellez said that if the current location proves successful, additional Saltillo Grills will be opening up in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Pueblo.

“We definitely want to make a name for ourselves,” he added.

FORT COLLINS — When A.B. Tellez, then general manager of Pour la France restaurant, began serving a few Mexican specialties to regular customers at Pour la France, the response was enthusiastic.

Then, at an employee meeting, Tellez questioned the restaurant’s 43 employees on their food preferences. The overwhelming response was in favor of Mexican cooking over French cuisine.

Convinced by friends and Kerry Plemmons, president of Pour la France Inc., that a Mexican restaurant was a sound business idea, Tellez jumped at the chance to make it a reality.

Because the Pour la France restaurant in Fort Collins was struggling financially, the…

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