A new restaurant is adding some flavorful flair to the Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville.
On Monday, March 1, brothers Salvador and Carlos Guzman opened their third location of El Campesino Mexican Restaurant to the community.
Both co-owners and co-chefs, the two said they started working together in the restaurant industry in the ‘90s and climbed their way up to starting their own business. In 1999 they opened the first El Campesino in Cleveland, followed by the second in Dawsonville around four years later.
Salvador said bringing their business to Gainesville never crossed his mind until recently. With a push from their customers who live in the area, he said they decided to give it a go.
“We have a very large amount of customers from Hall County that have been begging us to come,” he said. “We were talking about retiring in the next couple of years, but things have changed. Now we have to be here and start all over again.”
Salvador said the name of the restaurant sparked from his upbringing with Carlos, growing up with 12 siblings in Guanajuato, Mexico. Salvador said when he was a child, his father died, and his mother took the full responsibility of raising his brothers and sisters.
“Our family was considered farmers,” he said. “For our culture, from where we come from, Campesino is a very poor family, which pretty much grew their own corn and beans, so they could feed their children. That’s what our parents used to do.”
Salvador and Carlos immigrated to the U.S. several decades ago, and since then have gained their citizenship.
As a kid, Salvador said he cooked a lot of his own food. Some of the dishes served at El Campesino pay homage to the recipes he used to make with his mother and sisters.
Salvador said one of his favorite meals to serve is El Tejano, which includes steak, chicken and shrimp cooked with peppers and onions. The dish is smothered in spicy gravy, melted cheese and paired with a wedge of fresh Mexican cheese.
Another restaurant favorite is the El Campesino Special, a plate served with boneless chicken, shrimp, guacamole salad and a choice of rice or beans.
The restaurant’s menu offers a wide variety of both Mexican and Tex-Mex options, including carnitas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tortas, ranging from $3-$15.
If someone finds themselves displeased with their meal or wanting to alter their food, Salvador invites them to offer their criticism and recommendations.
“We will take an extra step to please customers in any way we can,” he said. “That’s something we’re proud about. We don’t want your business one time, we want your business forever.”
El Campesino has a full bar and can seat up to 160 people inside and 20 outside on its patio. In the near future, Salvador and Carlos said they plan to host live music from mariachi groups and other local musicians on the restaurant’s indoor stage.
“We want people to feel like this is the place where they can gather together, where they can come and celebrate, where they can feel like, ‘Wow, these guys give us the attention we want,’” Salvador said.
For those who haven’t tried the flavors of El Campesino, both Carlos and Salvador invite them to give the restaurant a shot and see why they’re proud of their business.
“We’re going to show you what we can do with our hard work and dedication to please this beautiful community,” Carlos said.