When: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday
Where: 3204 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville
More info: 678- 971-4686 or www.facebook.com/pages/Haydees-Cafe/145676049193970
Maria P. Delgado was looking for a taste of traditional Mexican food when she first visited Haydee’s Cafe.
The Flowery Branch woman and her husband went to the restaurant the day after it opened in July 2016. They tried the tacos and were pleasantly surprised.
“I wanted to see how close the food was to our original recipes,” Delgado said, adding it was exactly what the North Mexico native was looking for.
Luis Sepulveda and his wife, Haydee, are responsible for the traditional taste. The recipes used in the restaurant come from Haydee, who is originally from Mexico.
“My wife got them from her grandma,” Sepulveda said.
He opened Haydee’s Cafe at 3204 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville to spend more time with his family.
Sepulveda explained he had been working about 60 hours a week for a corporate restaurant chain in Texas and later in Gainesville. Then, he decided to open his own eatery.
Despite working the same amount of hours, if not more, Sepulveda is happy he started his own business. Instead of spending time working for someone else, he’s contributing to his own future and family.
Family is the reason Sepulveda uprooted his family of eight from a Texas border town. Sepulveda moved to Hall County in September 2014 with his wife and their six children to be closer to family. He said Gainesville was safer than living in Texas near the Mexican border and its cartels.
Safely in Gainesville, Haydee’s Cafe had only been open for breakfast and lunch until a month ago when the restaurant extended its hours to dinner.
“The main focus in the morning is Mexican breakfast,” Sepulveda said. “There’s nothing around here like this.”
Haydee’s uses fresh ingredients. The flour and corn tortillas are made from scratch every morning. Even the steak is bought in bulk and cut fresh. It’s never more than 14 days old, Sepulveda said.
Chilaquiles are the most popular breakfast items on the menu, he said. The dish consists of fried tortillas with green or red salsa. It comes with a choice of eggs and chicken or beef and is topped with Mexican cheese.
“We have people from Atlanta that actually come in,” Sepulveda said. “They lived in Texas and that’s the type of food they have in Texas. And they’ll drive here for it.”
Sepulveda’s favorite — steak tacos — are another popular dish. They feature real steak, not asada (a type of meat), slices of avocado and Mexican cheese.
Noemi Moreno Cepeda of Gainesville visited Haydee’s in August based on friends’ recommendation.
“The first time I went I had a burrito de papa and another with chorizo,” she said. “I loved it, because it had a taste of home and who doesn’t love home-cooked meals?”
She now recommends the restaurant to her friends and tells them her favorite dish is the tacos.
“Other than their great taste, it’s unique because you find a place in Gainesville where they put cheese and avocado on your tacos like they do in Brownsville, Texas,” she said. “It feels great to walk into a very friendly, warm and inviting environment. They take the time to ask if they can do anything else when you dine in.”
Sepulveda said guests at his restaurant can expect good hospitality and a unique atmosphere since he doesn’t serve alcohol. Sepulveda said it’s not the type of atmosphere he wants at the family restaurant.
Since opening seven months ago, Sepulveda said business has been going great.
“We’ve been blessed,” he said. “We only opened for lunch from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the longest time. We just started opening for dinner.”
Sepulveda said he didn’t really think he’d ever be a small business owner.
“I was in the corporate world back in Texas and I was pretty happy,” he said, but added he enjoys working for his future.