A La Mexicana brings second restaurant to Bridgton

TWO JOSES, TWO RESTAURANTS – After operating A La Mexicana Restaurant for almost seven years in Raymond, Jose Chavez (right) and his brother Jose are expanding to Bridgton with a second restaurant. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

Jose Chavez is expanding A La Mexicana Restaurant — heading north from Raymond to Bridgton with his authentic Mexican cuisine that has a true south of the border taste.

The location for his second restaurant is the Flanigan’s Roast Beef Restaurant & Tavern, also known as Beef & Ski. The physical address is 243 Portland Road.

The expectation is that the doors of A La Mexicana will open during the month of March, Chavez said.

“For the grand opening, I cannot say what date. It depends on the licenses. If I can, and everything goes through, it could be any day this month,” Chavez said.

“I cannot wait to see this open,” he said.

The opportunity to lease another restaurant in another community presented itself out of the blue. And, Chavez did not hesitate to jump at the chance with a the-sky-is-the-limit attitude.

“I heard that Beef and Ski was closing. I heard the last day was after the Super Bowl. I said to myself: I don’t see why not. I can handle both. It is more employees and doing more business and keeping my family together,” he said.

“I like to work. I like to stay busy,” he said. “I like to work. I have a family. I have a wife and four kids. I have bills to pay.”

Last April, the A La Mexicana Restaurant building in Raymond burned down. In the following months, Chavez dealt with that loss. By the summer, he started operating the restaurant out of a food wagon that was parked in front of the former building. This winter, a diner was shipped via truck from Ohio but weather has delayed the reopening of A La Mex in Raymond.

“I have been shut down for a year. I have had to keep going pretty much every day,” he said. “Good things and bad things happened. Ones that make you cry and ones that make you happy.”

The owners of the Raymond property, Bob and Laurie Mason, helped Chavez by acquiring the food wagon from which he could offer a down-sized menu.

“If there is one thing I can say to those guys it is, ‘Thank you very much.’ They are like my mom and dad. They helped me a lot. They worked together with me a lot. Them and then all my customers, my community. That helped me” make it through the hard times, he said.

“Talking about my community, it makes my heart happy. They come to me and say: ‘Nice work,’ ‘Everything will be okay.’ They say, ‘It happened for good.’ Laurie pushed me and helped me — that is why I am on my feet right now,” Chavez said.

For the second A La Mexicana Restaurant in Bridgton, the game plan is that his brother, who is also named Jose, will run the kitchen, Chavez said.

“My brother will be in charge, and my sister-in-law – just the family,” he said.

Chavez plans to work at the Bridgton site for the first two weeks to a month.

“When someone told me about this place, I knew it is a good location. I am taking this business space,” he said.

“People around here — they know me and they know my brother. I feel good every time I come to the Bridgton Town Hall and everyone smiles and says they are excited for it to open,” he said.

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