Valdosta welcomes new restaurant amid pandemic

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 9:07 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - While the pandemic is forcing many businesses to close, the City of Valdosta is welcoming the opening of a new restaurant this week.

"El Paso Valdosta" is located on North Ashley Street. The grand opening was held Monday. Although owners say more than 750 guests showed up, that opening day was delayed due to the pandemic.

"As far as our licensing, a lot of offices was closed for, you know, state liquor license, city liquor license," manager Roy Chavez said.

Co-owner Angie Chavez says it put them months behind schedule.

“More than anything, it has impacted us in the sense that a lot of the offices have been closed and whatnot, so that’s extended our time that we had to open,” Angie says. “I think we lagged around four months behind, three to four months behind.”

El Paso is downtown's newest restaurant, but the team is no stranger to the community.

"We started here in a food truck," Angie said.

That was about a year ago. The crew served up food outside of places like Georgia Beer Company and local apartment complexes.

"It was very good, so it's very interesting to see how it translates to a full-service restaurant," Ken Theis said during his first visit Wednesday.

The new staff at El Paso is employed locally.

"Thank God I had the opportunity to work because I know a lot of people aren't able to work during this time," new-hire Lilly Morales said.

Morales says they're following safety guidelines like wearing masks and gloves at all times and social distancing.

"They've really stepped up in a time of challenge for everyone. And to be a small a business and to establish something that's gonna be, you know, kind of a foot-hole here for downtown Valdosta, I think they'll be around for a long time," first-time customer and Valdosta resident Stuart Bright said.

El Paso is housed in a historical building, built in the early 1900's. Prior to opening, the owners restored some of the original framework: including beams over the bar area, flooring, ceiling and brick.

Valdosta Main Street director Ellen Hill says she's thrilled to welcome the new business.

"Having El Paso come in, especially during the pandemic time, it's a huge win for us," she said. "It definitely shows that, you know, people are still willing to invest in downtown and that the community is willing to come out and support."

The Chavez’s say they’re currently hiring, and the best way to reach out to them is through Facebook.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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