BELLVILLE – Not even a pandemic can stop the Davalos family.
Luis, Natalie and Jesus Davalos own and manage multiple Mexican restaurants across Richland County. They are expanding their network once again with a second Panchos Tacos location, this one in Bellville. Plans are for the new restaurant to open later this year.
“We think that they need something over there,” said Luis Davalos. “Exit 165 is right there so we’re thinking it’s going to be wonderful for Bellville and the traffic passing by to Cleveland or Columbus.”
"We’re always looking for something new for the community – we bring dishes that nobody has, that’s our goal. Whatever people want and deserve.”
The new Panchos Tacos will be at 844 State Route 97, the former site of K.C.’s Steakhouse.
The family hasn't announced an opening date, but anticipates it will be at least three months before the Bellville location is ready to welcome customers.
In the meantime, they'll be upgrading the kitchen and dining room and readying the patio for outdoor dining.
“Hopefully they don’t shut things down for COVID. We’re hoping not," Luis said. "We’re trying to bring the community together and hopefully we have people to work with us.”
The menu will be similar to that of the original Panchos Tacos, located on Lexington Avenue in Mansfield.
"We’re going to have wonderful food for everyone and they can have a wonderful margarita as well," Luis said. "So I think it’s going to be good for all the community around there.”
Opening a restaurant is difficult under the best circumstances, but staffing shortages and other uncertainties brought on by the pandemic have made things even more challenging for small business owners. Fortunately, the Davalos family has plenty of experience and a loyal client base.
"When you have a humongous corporation, they have a lot of more resources to finance and get money from different places but we are a small business (the pandemic) is hard on us," Luis said. "We would like to say thank you to every single one that supports our business and in the future at this new location, I hope everybody will support us as well."
Two years later, Jesus started a taco cart with his former business partner Alejandro Anchondo. Panchos Tacos became so popular the pair opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2017 on Lexington Avenue.
Next came Dulce Amor, a coffee and sweet shop in the same strip mall as Panchos Tacos. It opened in the early days of the pandemic and is co-owned by Jesus, Luis and Natalie and their daughter, Elizabeth Aguirre.
The success hasn't come without sacrifice. It's common for the trio to work 14-hour days.
“You work so many hours. You work every day. You don’t take days off like everybody does, you don’t take weekends off," Luis said.
Faced with a temporary staffing shortage around the holidays, the Davalos made an unprecedented choice last month. They closed El Campestre and Los Tres Mayas for Christmas Eve.
“We’re usually open, but this time we were short people and we decided to enjoy our family," Luis said. "We work so much that we decided, 'You know what? I think it’s time to enjoy our family.' So that’s what we did.
“We have amazing staff that help us a lot," he added. "We want to say thank you to every single one. Part of that success is for them because they’ve been working with us for a long time.”
When asked why they continue working long hours to keep things running, Luis, Natalie and Jesus all had the same answer.
They love to see their customers happy. Seeing a customer discover their new favorite dish is especially rewarding.
"They keep ordering the same thing and they’re so happy about it," Natalie said. "I like to see the people happy."