Owning a restaurant is a risk, even more so when you step into an existing business with a beleaguered reputation. However, Edgar Romero decided he was ready for the challenge, seizing the opportunity to move from management to owner.
Romero, who has 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, having worked his way up from busboy to manager, made the move to owner when he purchased the Mexican restaurant Hacienda Don Manuel on Federal Road in Brookfield. He might have kept the name from the previous owners, but that’s about it. As the new owner, his first order of business was to give the restaurant a complete overhaul with a new look, new staff and a new menu. “When you become the owner, whatever happens, it’s all on your shoulders,” he said. “The first six months were really tough, but we’re doing really well now.”
The small bar area and large dining room are colorfully decorated with sombreros, serapes, Mexican flags and flowers. In addition, Hacienda Don Manuel has a patio area with a new gazebo for extended-season outdoor dining as well as a private party room. Romero commented that the party room has been especially popular for all types of events, from birthday celebrations to business holiday parties.
You’ll find a little bit of everything on the menu. “We’re serving the real deal Mexican food,” he noted. In addition to classic dishes like stuffed jalapenos, tacos, fajitas and chimichangas, you’ll also see unique entrees such as pork Osso Bucco in a chipotle sauce. Additionally, they rotate dinner specials every three weeks. And, on trend, Hacienda Don Manuel offers tableside guacamole with house-made chips.
When it comes to drinks, Hacienda Don Manuel is serving up beer, wine, sangria and a plethora of margaritas, every flavor imaginable. And, if you can’t decide, there’s the “Dirty Margarita,” which is half red sangria and half frozen margarita. Happy hour is Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 pm, and they offer a bevy of drink and appetizer specials.
The colorful decor and fresh, authentic food is only part of the dining experience. Fun is also a key element. “It’s not like work if it’s fun,” laughed Romero. On weekends, the festive atmosphere amps up with a roving mariachi band from 6 to 10 pm. “You can see people dancing at their tables,” he said with a smile.
All the hard work and effort is paying off and Romero isn’t slowing down. He remains focused on offering the best dining experience possible. “We take care of people with good, quality food and service,” he said. “It feels good when people are happy and [it’s] how I know I’m doing the right job.”
Hacienda Don Manuel is located at 265 Federal Road in Brookfield, across from Costco. They are open Sunday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 11:30 pm. Closed Mondays. For more information visit http://haciendadonmanuel-ct.com.