Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore

Iliana and Ernesto married in Mexico City and shortly after moved to Oaxaca, where Iliana had deep family roots and where she wanted to open a restaurant specializing in Oaxacan cuisine.  The restaurant flourished until 2006, when the community experienced a period of political unrest, causing Iliana and Ernesto to sell their restaurant and move to the United States.

Not long after their arrival to Austin, Ernesto began planning the El Naranjo trailer as a first step to learn about the Austin market and its culinary scene. In May 2012, El Naranjo Restaurant & Bar finally opened, and they've consistently been recognized as one of the best traditional Mexican Cuisine restaurants in Austin.

In 2014, the Mexican Government granted de la Vega with the prestigious Ohtli Award in recognition of her work in furthering Mexican gastronomy. The Ohtli is the greatest award given by the Mexican Government to Mexican citizens living abroad. In the same year, she was named the Hispanic Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Show notes…

Calls to ACTION!!!

Favorite success quote or mantra:

  • "Hard work. Be true to yourself. Be honest."

In today's episode with Iliana de la Vega we will discuss:

  • Growing up cooking in Mexico
  • Importance of partners
  • Business partnership with your spouse
  • Oaxacan cuisine
  • Early mistakes and how to fix them
  • Presence in the kitchen as an owner
  • Turmoil in Mexico in the early 2000's
  • Political upheaval and strikes interrupting business
  • Moving to the USA as a Mexican
  • Testing a market
  • Retaining staff
  • Training staff
  • Patiently educating you customers
  • Rising costs

Today's sponsor:

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Knowledge bombs

  1. Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
    • Honesty
  2. What is your biggest weakness?
    • Don't get enough sleep
  3. What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
    • Eye-contact and honesty
  4. What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
    • Make the restaurant happen for REAL, success
  5. Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
    • The best service is the one you don't notice
  6. What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
    • Know the menu perfectly, must know all terms and meanings
  7. What's one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
    • Be present in the restaurant
  8. Name one service you've hired.
    • Tabulate accounting
  9. What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your restaurant walls and how has it influence operations?
  10. If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be?
    • Work hard
    • Study
    • Be open to learn more

Contact info:

El Naranjo website

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Iliana de la Vega for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!


Restaurant Unstoppable is a free podcast. One of the ways I'm able to make it free is by earning a commission when sharing certain products with you. I've made it a core value to only share tools, resources, and services my guest mentors have recommend, first. If you're finding value in my podcast, please use my links!
Direct download: 698_Iliana_de_le_vega__mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT