Fiesta Jalapenos Mexican Grill was started by two brothers who, by their late 20s, rose from being dishwashers in someone else’s establishment to owners of four restaurants.
One of the brothers, Rogelio Hernandez, is now the principal owner of Fiesta Jalapenos Mexican Grill in North Ridgeville. Both Hernandez brothers, together with other family members, own and operate Casa Del Rio in Wadsworth, El Jalapeno in Lakewood, Fiesta Jalapenos and their newest, Si Senor in Westlake. Fiesta Jalapenos opened three years ago thanks to the suggestion of a customer who recognized the dearth of Mexican restaurants in the North Ridgeville area.
“My brothers didn’t want our restaurants to come across as a chain, so they gave each one a different name,” explains Rogelio’s sister Maria. “They believe that customers are more inclined to support a family restaurant. Each restaurant is operated by a different member of the family, and each location’s cook has his own style.” While the menus are the same, the cooks at each establishment have creative leeway preparing the food.
Now, Maria is a waitress at Fiesta Jalapenos. She has also been the hostess and manager. Rogelio opened and designed the restaurant. Their father, Guadalupe (“Lupe”), is its bartender and part owner. According to Maria, her father is the customers’ favorite family member. “Everyone loves Lupe. He’s so funny and so nice.”
Maria describes Fiesta Jalapenos as a family restaurant with a Tex-Mex menu, and everything, from chips and salsa to fried ice cream and flan, is homemade. Its fajitas are its best sellers. Sunday night is Fajitas Night, with $9.99 specials on chicken and steak varieties. But the most popular offering is Fajitas de la Casa, a steak, chicken and shrimp combination served with rice and beans and a side of lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.
There are reasonably priced $4.25 daily lunch specials, too. The most popular is the appropriately named Speedy Gonzalez — a taco, enchilada, rice and beans plate made all the more enticing by its fast preparation.The restaurant recently obtained its liquor license and began introducing daily drink specials and very popular margaritas.
Indeed, Fiesta Jalapenos has attracted a group of lunch regulars from Bendix and North Ridgeville High School, and diners from Lorain, Avon, Grafton, Elyria and North Ridgeville.
“Around the holidays, someone created a Facebook page for us. Within less than a month, we already had 500 fans,” Maria says. “We wouldn’t have known about it except that a policeman came and told us, thinking that I had created it.”
Maria has made an impact on the restaurant’s growth and civic involvement. She and her father moved to North Ridgeville shortly after the restaurant’s opening. A 2009 graduate of North Ridgeville High School, she encouraged her family to support many of its teams and charitable events. Fiesta Jalapenos has held fundraisers for a variety of clubs and sports teams, even the high school prom.