My wife and I patronize El Penjamo on a regular basis, and will also stop at Del Sol in Charleston occasionally. Recently my son treated us to dinner at Del Sol, and as I was preparing to leave, I took a chance and asked the young lady at the cash register about the possibility of doing an article about the restaurants. She said her father would be there at 10 o’clock Monday morning, and if I would stop by then, he would be glad to talk with me.
Monday morning came, and I was there. The young lady and another employee or two were getting ready for the day’s business. Her name is Yoandra, and she introduced me to her son, Matteo, who appeared to be about four years old and was waiting for the baby-sitter to pick him up. She said he is already learning the functions of the restaurant business and will help out in small ways when he is there.
Soon her father, Marco Vazquez, arrived at the restaurant. I thought it was very accommodating of him to visit with me for a few moments, considering that he owns one restaurant, helps out with another, and is in the process of opening up a third. One would assume that he does not suffer from idleness.
Marco is a very polite gentleman who speaks English well, although with a definite accent. He opened the Booneville restaurant in 2003, and his brother, Adolfo, opened Del Sol about four years later. Marco is in the process of opening a third store in Fort Smith as soon as they get through the red tape involved with all the permits.
He said that one of the biggest headaches he has to deal with on a week-to-week basis is getting the employees scheduled for the coming week. There was also a period of two weeks a while back when a storm had damaged the roof of the restaurant and they were shut down. While I was there, Yoandra was working with a technician who had come to fix a problem with their credit card machine – just a few of the problems that have to be dealt with in restaurant management.
There are still quite a few of the extended Vazquez family who work in the business. However, some have moved on, and as the traffic has increased, they have hired a number of employees from outside the clan. Yoandra graduated from Booneville High School, but has since moved to the Lavaca area, so she spends most of her time at the Charleston facility now. Daniel, her cousin, graduated from Danville, and now manages El Penjamo full time.
I mentioned to Marco that I had complained to Daniel about their having begun to close the restaurants on Sunday at 3:00. Pam and I used to carry out Sunday supper orders on a regular basis. He explained that the business places such demands on the employees that Sunday evening is one time they can relax and spend time with their families, and I told him I understood entirely. Your people come first.
Marco’s parents still live in Mexico, and he said he travels there about once a year to visit them. However, he said he has moved here, and this is his home now.
When I asked him about his own personal work schedule, he replied, “Eight days a week, 25 hours a day.” Considering that, I would say he is committed to the Arkansas project, and I am glad to hear it. The Vazquez family makes good food and give service with a smile.