Mexican restaurant in Peters just got off to a warm start | Business

It’s a story of hearts and flowers – and why not? It starts on Valentine’s Day.

Business partners Adi Karamcheti and Fidel Valdovinos were gearing up for a soft opening at La Calera Mexican Bar and Grill that day. “We wanted to solve the problems,” Karamcheti said. “My wife (Erenia) was really nervous,” and the co-owners were a bit anxious.

They expected a modest crowd at the Peters Township location, not realizing that a five-second video posted to social media would create a rush for the doors – which in regular circumstances is a good thing in the food industry.

“It went viral,” Karamcheti said. “We didn’t have the people. The bartender had quit the night before and we had two servers, usually three or four.

La Calera may have briefly resembled La Chaos, but the owners and staff diligently persevered and saved the day. And probably fostered love in some customers at an opportune time.

Four weeks later, an expanded team continues to prepare and serve tacos, nachos, enchiladas and margaritas seven days a week. The restaurant is located at 94 Center Church Road, off Route 19, where the Italian restaurant German Open Table worked before. Open Table, Karamcheti said, closed during the pandemic.

“Things have worked out pretty well so far,” he said recently.

The interior of the new foodie destination deserves a catchy ole. It’s chic and colorful, with 10 bright hand-painted murals. Eight are by Jose Manuel Torres Naranjo, whose work includes street scenes from the small Mexican town of La Calera, where Valdovinos once lived. The daughters of La Calara manager Luis Mejia, Jackelin and Sherelyn, drew the other two.

“Jose put the Taj Mahal in the background of a Mexican scene, in my honor,” said Karamcheti, who was born in India and moved to Washington with his family when he was 2 months old.

This is his first attempt at a restaurant. A longtime resident of the city, Karamcheti is a professional services consultant with Shipware, a San Diego-based transportation company. In his new quest, he relies heavily on the experience of Valdovinos, owner of the Old Mexico restaurant on Murtland Avenue in Washington.

“I’m not a Mexican food expert,” Karamcheti said with a laugh. “Fidel and I are very good friends. He approached me last April to purchase the building, which was in fairly good condition.

The property includes a residential site, where a couple of employees live.

The owners now have a staff of 12, and if anyone takes a sick day, Karamcheti will enlist one or both of his two secondary school-aged sons to fill the gap. Owners and employees face a tough time for a restaurant trying to gain traction – with supply chain delays and runaway inflation exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The price of food is a bit high now. It’s a bit trickier,” Karamcheti said. “The customers have been incredibly nice and kind, though.”

He added that he and Valdovinos plan to change the menu, adding dishes from other Central American countries.

For Karamcheti, this is another interesting chapter in an interesting life. He is from India, the son of Anand Karamcheti, a well-known Washington surgeon who died this year, and his wife, the late Rama, a longtime employee of the Citizens Library in Washington.

Adi is bilingual (English and Spanish) and married to Erenia, who was born and raised in Nicaragua. She left that country during a civil war to attend university in Honduras, where she earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree.

After returning to Nicaragua, she met Adi on New Year’s Eve 1998, when he was in the Peace Corps. They eventually got married. Erenia, who is also bilingual (English and Spanish), is a CCD teacher at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Meadow Lands.

La Calera hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

La Calera is the fourth operating Mexican restaurant in the township. All are located on or near the Washington Road Corridor.

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