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New Mexican restaurant to celebrate ‘Grande’ opening

Carlos Ortiz, owner of Casa Grande, stirs some fresh vegetables to help out in the kitchen to prepare for opening day. Casa Grande, located in South Point off of Sandusky Road, opened today. -- The Tribune/Michelle Goodman

Carlos Ortiz has always dreamed of owning his own restaurant. The now 33-year-old has been in the food industry since he was 15.

When his uncle, Gabriel Valadez, told him about an opportunity to run a Mexican restaurant in South Point, he jumped on it and moved from Covington, Va. about a month ago, where he had been managing another restaurant.

“It has always been my dream to be the owner of a restaurant,” Ortiz said. “(Gabriel) told me about this opportunity. It seems like a beautiful town and beautiful people.”

As business partners, Ortiz and Valadez bought Rancho Nuevo in South Point, making Ortiz’s dream a reality.

“We bought Rancho Nuevo. We changed it to Casa Grande, because we wanted to (start over),” Ortiz said. “We’re going to bring better food, better service and better atmosphere.”

Casa Grande opened today, with Ortiz’s brother, Francisco, as head chef. The 23-year-old attended culinary school in Pasadena, Calif.

Francisco said he wants to make sure patrons of Casa Grande always get the same quality of food each time they visit.

“Honestly, I’ve always said this, I don’t like to specialize in something,” he said. “We like to make everything good.”

Ortiz said confidently, “My guarantee is this, if you don’t like what you are eating, we’ll replace that plate for another one, for no charge.”

Valadez joked in Spanish, which Ortiz translated, “If they like it they pay double!”

To celebrate the opening of Casa Grande, the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce has helped to organize a grand opening on Thursday, Oct. 28.

There will be a free buffet and free soft drinks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be a ribbon cutting at noon.

Bob Smith, the Chamber director, said they were happy to see a new business open in Lawrence County.

“They came to the Chamber of Commerce right off the bat wanting to belong to the chamber, so that gave me a good idea that they are really interested in the community and the citizens of the area and are hoping to do well in that location down there (off) Sandusky Road,” Smith said. “They seem to be really, really into community relations and making sure they’re a good business partner and a good neighbor in the area. They want to establish a good reputation.”

Ortiz said, “We’re here to help the community too. Anybody that needs some help, they just come and talk to me, and whatever I can do to help them, I will help.”

With his dream now a reality Ortiz said he was very excited, but also every tired. He said he and his crew have been working 12-14 hours a day to prepare for the opening. They have been making kitchen modifications, brought in new chairs, tables and booths and replaced the old carpet with new tile.

Even Ortiz’s father, Juan, a veteran restaurant cook, has been helping with the maintenance.

The hours for Casa Grande, located on 49 Township Road in South Point, are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

“Just give us the first try,” said Ortiz, “and I give my guarantee.”