By Woodrow Polston
Anxious patrons lined up outside of Valencia’s Restaurant last Saturday for the grand opening of the establishment. At 3 p.m., the Vandalia Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new business.
“We are here today to welcome the Valencia’s to Vandalia,” said Chamber of Commerce President Charla Smith. “We are happy to see them come into our community, and we want to wish them the best and say congratulations on opening your business,” she added.
On Friday evening, there was a surprise soft open that some of the local residents were able to take advantage of. The owners made it known that they were doing this, and as a result they served enough customers to fill about half of the dining room for dinner. Patrons said that they were delightfully surprised at the service and the quality of the food. Mandy Chinn, who traveled from Louisiana, Mo., to attend the grand opening, said that the food was good and that she would be going back again. Just before the ribbon cutting, owner Madeline Buhr gave a short speech about the occasion.
“We are so thankful for all of the support from the community and the Chamber of Commerce,” said Buhr. “We would like to thank our parents, family and friends for all of the help and everyone who has come out today to help us celebrate the grand opening of our restaurant,” she added. Area residents Ann Kohl and Lisa Lovell took the initiative to help the new entrepreneurs feel welcome by cleaning up the landscaping around the restaurant. Owners Victor Valencia and Madeline Buhr have had years of experience in the food industry. Opening with approximately seven employees, Buhr said that everyone helping to launch the new restaurant has worked with them before.
“The employees who are working with us are those we have known and met along the way, and that we have established our trust with. As for our food, we tried to not make the menu too big and overwhelming. We feel that a large menu can cause a lot of confusion and a lot of food waste that can be avoided. From our experience we have chosen certain dishes that have been popular and that many people really loved. We will also be offering some authentic Mexican dishes such as the Toreado, the Torta, which is a Mexican sandwich, and our Burrito Caliente, which will have steak and french fries with cheese inside of it,” said Buhr.
The restaurant will be open seven days a week according to the owners. Prior to opening last weekend, residents of Vandalia would have to travel to Mexico or Bowling Green for the nearest Mexican dining experience. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“For now, our hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week except on Sunday, which will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. We want to feel out the town and community and see what hours and days work best. We may eventually be closed one day a week but we are not yet sure which day of the week that would be.