BATAVIA – Jose Olvera started working at El Taco Grande restaurant as a busboy 17 years ago.
Fast forward to now and Olvera is set to take control of the popular downtown Batavia eatery as the owner. He is purchasing the Mexican restaurant from its original owners, the Martinez family.
Patrons probably won't notice the change, as Olvera has been El Taco Grande’s manager for the past 10 years and is a familiar face for the restaurant’s clientele.
“I’m so excited,” Olvera said of the entrepreneurship opportunity.
Manuel Martinez opened El Taco Grande in 1991, earning a loyal following with his freshly prepared, authentic Mexican cuisine.
“He passed all the secrets to me,” Olvera said.
The only change Olvera is contemplating will be to add breakfast to the menu in as soon as a few months.
Located in the heart of the downtown at 6 N. River St., El Taco Grande occupies the lower level of a historic limestone building that the Martinez family will continue to own. Olvera will lease the restaurant space, which seats about 80 customers indoors and another 30 on the outdoor patio along North River Street.
The building’s upper levels are home to the Underground Allegro Dance Center.
Freddy Martinez, Manuel’s son, will continue to operate his Fernando’s Street Kitchen outside in front of the restaurant on Saturday mornings for the Batavia Farmers' Market.
El Taco Grande has a complement of nine full-time employees and another seven part-time workers.
“We have a good staff of employees,” Olvera said.
These include chef Ezequiel Guerra, who has been with the restaurant for many years, along with Mark Ginter, Olvera’s new assistant manager.
Ginter, a Batavia High School graduate, worked as a busboy at El Taco Grande when he was a teen. He left Batavia for a time to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, but has returned.
“I’m following in the same footsteps,” Ginter said of his advance from busboy to management, like Olvera.
“The people here are special,” Ginter said. “We have lots of regular customers.”
El Taco Grande is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Olvera is planning to open at 7 a.m. every day of the week when he adds breakfast to the menu.
The ownership change is set for Sept. 16. The Batavia City Council approved the transfer of the restaurant’s liquor license to Olvera on Sept. 4.