“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” That quotation from Thomas Jefferson could well describe the philosophy of Julie Ribera and her family. Over the years, other restaurants have come and gone at the location in the Plaza del Sol in Cottonwood Shores, but Julie’s Cocina has been a success since its opening in October of 2009. Within a few days, the restaurant was already acquiring a steady stream of customers and it has continued to thrive. It’s apparent that hard work—not luck—is a key element in that success.
I recently had a chance to chat with Julie’s son, Frank Marquez, who is a co-owner of the business and works mainly behind the scenes handling the financial, marketing and maintenance end of the operation, in addition to doing construction work and other jobs. When I asked him what he thought had contributed to the growth of their business, he emphasized their commitment to quality food and customer service.
That’s no mere platitude. With over 25 years experience in the restaurant business, Julie knows the market and the customers in this area. The menu is quintessentially Tex-Mex—you won’t find exotic fusion dishes, but you can enjoy traditional homemade food such as fresh tortillas and tamales, their sizzlers—a dinner favorite—and the always popular enchiladas. The salsa does not come from New York City. If you’re not in the mood for Mexican dishes, you can get a good hamburger and you can get breakfast all day long. The last time I ate there, I ran into some friends who were enjoying an evening meal of pancakes while I tucked into a quesadilla. They run daily specials Monday through Friday and respond with new offerings when customers express an interest.
The restaurant is open 15 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, and 7 hours on Sunday. That’s almost 100 hours a week—supported by a kitchen and wait staff of some 21 employees. What’s notable is the family’s involvement in the operation. Julie is there every day, her son oversees the office, and her sister, Rosie Roman, is the head waitress.
Family members helped out with the initial remodeling of the space in 2009 and did almost all of the work themselves, from installing new dry wall and painting to the plumbing and electricity. The deck on the south side was completed a little later. The latest remodel was a major undertaking completed last month. They expanded into the adjacent unit, adding 1400 square feet. The original space is totally renovated with a new bar and a larger kitchen area that helps streamline the operation. A bright and attractive new dining space with seating for 60 has been added. It includes a room that can be closed off and used for private parties or as a conference room with LCD projection hook-ups. They feature live music on Saturday nights, and they anticipate having a good crowds to watch the fall football games.
You can check out the menu and other information online at www.EatAtJulies.com. They are located at 4119 Hwy 2147, Unit 1, in Cottonwood Shores. Telephone: (830)-265-5804.