We had the good fortune of connecting with Cristal Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cristal, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
In 2019, our Founders, Everardo Chavez, Ismael and Martha Rodriguez envisioned building a modern Mexican style restaurant that would make people and quality the main focus.

Ismael Rodriguez is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. He has worked in multiple Mexican restaurants in Arizona for over
25 years. With so much experience, Ismael always had a dream. He hoped to utilize his skills and experiences to someday
open a family owned restaurant and become a business owner with his wife, Martha Rodriguez.

In 2017, Martha’s father, Juan Rodriguez, suddenly passed away and left many broken hearts. Martha vowed to her
mother that if their dream of owning their own restaurant ever came true, it would be named in his honor.
This dream has been an ongoing goal for Ismael & Martha for over one decade, however, financially, they were not
prepared to endure this journey on their own. To make matters worse, they also did not know what the business aspect
consisted of and how to properly prepare. Martha & Ismael brought the idea of creating a partnership with their son-in-
law, Everardo Chavez. They asked him,“¿Que te parace si nos convertimos en socios?” Immediately, Everardo responded
excitedly,“¡Por supuesto! ¿¡Porqué no me lo preguntaron antes!?”

Everardo is a Glendale native, born and raised in the community. He is an Arizona State University graduate, Real Estate
Broker, Private Lender, Investor, and overall Entrepreneur. Everardo would help bring the business know-how while Ismael
& Martha manage the day to day. When Ismael & Martha introduced their vision to Everardo, he realized the passion,
dedication, and huge potential. The opportunity of providing extraordinary authentic dishes to the community in a
modern setting and bringing the spirit of family that Don Juan was known to provide to anyone that entered his home.

Devoted to making this vision a reality, Everardo, who had the business experience, went straight to work. In 2019, an
incredible opportunity came on their radar; a prime restaurant location was about to become available on the commercial
market. As smart future business owners, their priority was “Location, Location, Location!” So when they came across
the establishment in the heart of Historic Downtown Glendale, they quickly acted on it and acquired it. The vision was
starting to come together!

Neither Ismael or Martha had mentioned to Everardo the vow that Martha had made to her mother. Once the partnership
was established, they didn’t think it would happen. However, their daughter, Cristal, brought up Martha’s vow and
Everardo was on board. What a perfect name and story to personalize the experience they would provide to their
customers. Cristal never told her parents about this conversation. Weeks later, when they obtained complete
ownership, Everardo asked for them to meet at the restaurant. He waited for them on a community bench that directly
faced the restaurant. As Ismael & Martha walked up with brimming smiles, they greeted him, “Que Paso?” to which
Everardo replied, “¿Como se miraría?” Pointing at the space where the signage would be, he continued, “Don Juan’s
Mexican Grill…” The rest is now history!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I, Cristal Rodriguez, am the General Manager at our family business, Don Juan’s Mexican Grill. I am extremely proud of my parents, Ismael and Martha Rodriguez, for making their dream of opening up a family restaurant a reality! Seeing them born and raised from Guanajuato, Mexico and coming to the U.S for better opportunities has always motivated me to work hard as well! To my fiance, Everardo Chavez, I am very proud of all his hard work and helping make my parent’s dream a reality. As a businessman and overall entrepreneur, he plays a vital role to ensure Don Juan’s Mexican Grill is operating effectively. I am excited to see years from now how much more we have grown! We continue to grow everyday and with the best Don Juan’s Team, we are going so far!

Before starting my role as General Manager at Don Juan’s Mexican Grill, I was a middle school science teacher for two years. I loved being a science teacher and creating connections with my kiddos! When Don Juan’s Mexican Grill came into the picture, it was a big sacrifice to leave my teaching role to become General Manager. I knew I wanted to help our family business grow and be part of it all! The goodbye to my kiddos brought tears to my eyes, but I know every moment spent with them was cherished! I absolutely love my role as General Manager because in a way, I feel like a teacher as well. I love to share the positives to my Don Juan’s Team! Making sure they know that their hard work is evident and how they are doing so great is always a rewarding feeling! I also like to share what we can work on as a team to ensure we continue to strive! Staff shout-outs and random Starbucks gift cards to my team is always my favorite thing to do. I appreciate our team so much and I always want them to feel like family and enjoy going to work! It has not been easy to be General Manager, everything has been new to me. Such as, learning strategies on how to conduct interviews for new staff, methods for new staff training, learning how to schedule, completing payroll, marketing, and overall how to manage the day to day operations. Thankfully, I have an amazing team who helps me along the way. My brother, Carlos Rodriguez, and cousin, Aimee Ramirez, are our Managers who also help with the day to day operations! As Don Juan’s managing team, we’ve all learned new things along the way. Overall, I’ve learned along the way to be true to yourself and to not take anything personal. No restaurant is perfect and perhaps customer expectations might not always be met. However, I’ve learned to focus on the positives, reflect on how much we have grown as a business, and realize the huge support system that continues to support us. We want the world to know that at Don Juan’s Mexican Grill, our mission is to provide your family the most delicious Mexican food and friendliest customer service, always. Don Juan’s Mexican Grill is our home and our family invites your family to experience just that!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to all our amazing Don Juan’s families and overall Don Juan’s supporters! We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them! We are forever grateful for every single one of our customers who continue to support us! Once you enter our doors, you immediately become family. Don Juan’s Mexican Grill is all about making you feel at home while enjoying delicious, authentic Mexican Food. Opening our doors in the middle of a pandemic was quite the risk, we would constantly hear, “why are you opening right now?” “There’s a pandemic, it’s not a good idea!” or “Oh wow, goodluck you will need it.” We’ve always kept our heads high and remained positive. Why? Because we knew our great potential from the start! Despite the negativity from some people, we’ve always had amazing supporters since day one! Fast forward to today, we continue to grow as a Don Juan’s Team, we get the privilege to create connections with families, celebrate birthdays, and overall experience our Don Juan’s home filled with laughter, smiles while enjoying delicious Mexican Food. It is an unexplainable feeling to witness what at first was a vision now has become a reality. Thank you to our Don Juan’s supporters!

Website: www.donjuansmexicangrill.com

Instagram: @donjuansgrill

Facebook: @DonJuansMexGrill

Image Credits
Don Juan’s Mexican Grill

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