By SHELLEY TERRY - firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past decade, locals and visitors alike have been enjoying homestyle, authentic tacos, burritos, fajitas and other signature Mexican dishes at a West Avenue favorite.
“People want homemade Mexican food and that’s what we make,” said Luis Navarro, 30, owner of Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant, 4700 West Ave. “I love it.”
His family owns eight stores all together, in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“The Ashtabula location was our first store,” he said. “We opened in 2003.”
To celebrate, the Navarro family is putting on three-day party, beginning 6-8 p.m. Feb. 26 with a Kids Day, featuring a clown, balloons, candy and face painting for the children.
A Mariachi Night will be held from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 27 with a live band and food specials.
Come March 1, the Navarros will be giving away gifts, cards, baskets and 300 free t-shirts all day.
“We want to show Ashtabula we are happy for their support,” he said.
Los Compadres’ menu is based on recipes from family, Navarro said, a defining point of the restaurant.
Navarro and his brother, Armando, were born in Mexico but reared in Los Angeles. His brother moved east first and Navarro followed. They worked in a Mexican restaurant in Akron, but soon started looking to open their very own restaurant.
Then they discovered Ashtabula — “No competition,” he said. “We were in business.”
They found the building next to Arby’s to lease and the brothers hired local artisans to make the booths and tables, and to help decorate with elaborate paintings. His father, Jose Navarro, likes to cook and his mother, Guillermina Navarro, wanted to help, so they moved east, too.
“We did all of the decorating,” Luis Navarro said. “We put together the menu ... It was a lot of work and stressful, but I am used to it now. I like being busy.”
The quesadillas, pollo ranchero and fajitas were a big, big hit. Margarita Nights attracted crowds.
Love also entered the picture when Luis met Marisol, married and had two children.
“My family grew, and my business grew,” he said. “A lot of people in Madison were waiting for us to open a restaurant there. Many people in Madison were driving to Ashtabula to eat our food.”
Some of the secrets to success include the food, prompt service, clean atmosphere and reasonable prices.
“Everything we make at any of our locations is fresh and from scratch,” Luis said. “We are not a franchise. All of our restaurants are owned by our family.”
As the time has flown by, with the Ashtabula location passing its 10-year mark, Navarro remains grateful for his loyal cusotmers.
Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant, 4700 West Ave. can be reached at (440) 998-5013 for more information. Open Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.