Jesus Sanchez said it all started with him taking a chance. There was no plan. “I had never owned a restaurant in the past. When I had the opportunity to open, I took the risk.”
That roll of the dice led to five years of steady and unexpected success as the owner and cook at the Colorado Burrito Mexican Grill when it was in Daniel Boone Village near I-40 in Hillsborough.
Fast forward six years, and Sanchez is once again feeling lucky as his Mexican restaurant with a devoted fanbase signals its return to Hillsborough, with plans to open in the space formerly occupied by the Bandido Mexican Café & Cantina at the corner of Churton and Margaret Lane. The date of opening is unconfirmed, though Sanchez said he is hoping for early December.
“When I first opened the restaurant at Daniel Boone Village it was because somebody else was already in that building trying to open,” Sanchez said. “He ran out of money and he didn’t know what to do. He offered for me to buy the business from him. I took the risk. To be honest, I didn’t know the business was going to grow the first year. We did really well in the first three months. I got the feeling that it was going to work, but it was going to take time. I thought we could make it. But I didn’t know that the business would continue to grow after three months. We did really, really well for five years.”
Sanchez said his restaurant would still be there had the landlord not sold all of the property to make way for what will eventually be Collins Ridge. He went in search of a new location to hopefully continue growing his popular business, finally landing at a spot on N.C. 70 in Mebane.
Sanchez said the Mebane location was doing well prior to Covid-19. “It’s not like it used to be. We were growing when the pandemic hit. Now, we are doing OK. Enough to stay open.”
Sanchez said he learned of the vacancy in Hillsborough through his landlord, who also owns the space on Churton Street. After the two negotiated terms of the lease, Sanchez said he was willing to give it a shot to see how things go.
“I was thinking about it for a month,” Sanchez said. “I decided if he’s going to give me the opportunity to open, then I would do it. And we talked about the price. Everything here is more expensive, but it’s a better location. That’s why I’m taking the risk to come back to Hillsborough. We had so many customers, when we moved out, they started going to Mebane. It’s hard for them to travel from Hillsborough to Mebane just to buy food. They did it in the beginning, but then we started to see they’re not coming as often. I understood. You have more places here, why go to Mebane?”
Sanchez said he’s excited about the new restaurant, and said his plan is to keep open the Mebane location. He said he’s received a positive response from people who have learned about the return to Hillsborough.
While there is no clear area for outdoor seating, Sanchez said he want to work something out to provide the option.
“It’s not up to me, though. It’s the city. You can plan anything you want, but if the city says ‘no.’ I don’t want to do anything not by the rules,” he said.
His plan is to hire at least five people to work at the location in Hillsborough, and offer take-out and potentially a delivery service for the area.
Sanchez credits the popularity of his food to his past work at a Mexican restaurant in California.
“Most of the Mexican restaurants in North Carolina cook the same way, the same things. I come from California and I cook it different,” he said.