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confidence in him even after he made mistakes. Gandara was smart enough to listen to them to find the right vendors after some companies tried to take advantage of a novice owner. “Companies out there will do a job but they will rip you off,” Gandara said. “I don’t mind paying, but why would I pay $5 for the same gallon of milk I can get for $3 from the next guy? It’s the same product. Once I got the right staff and the right vendors in place everything else was easy.” Gandara was an investor in the Frankfort Avenue location of Sol Aztecas Restaurant, but in 2008 he took over the space and rechristened it Ramiro’s Cantina. His sister, Ivonne, came to work for him. Gandara claims that she is as good a cook as his mom. While her son was establishing himself in Louisville, Escajeda was still living in Texas and working at her restaurant in Mexico. But in 2010, she called her son with terrifying news. A Mexican cartel was trying to shake her down for money. Gandara told her to close the restaurant immediately and he sent his family tickets to Louisville. Escajeda would later learn that the cartel had burned down her house and restaurant. Gandara said his business improved almost from the moment his mother arrived in Louisville. She expanded his menu and retrained his staff to cook her way. That is when he realized why her food impressed his friends when he was young. “Everything has to be her way — all the sauces, all the meats have to be a certain way,” Gandara said. “We are the only Mexican restaurant that smokes our meat. The brisket is awesome. We serve it in burritos, taco and quesadillas. We are introducing smoked chicken with the new menu.” Although beef, chicken and pork dominate the Ramiro’s Cantina menu, most dishes also come in vegetarian options. Some of the top sellers at the restaurant are the burrito stuffed with grilled chicken and onions, topped with chile con queso and cilantro sauce, and the enchiladas topped with mole. There is also a delicious dish of

(from top) Mussels in a spicy tomato sauce; The Oink-Oink Burger — two beef patties topped with smoked braised pork; the 46 oz. Monster Margarita 26

Spring 2017 (vol 55)  

FEB - MAR - APR 2017

Spring 2017 (vol 55)  

FEB - MAR - APR 2017