El Azteca, which has been a mainstay restaurant among those who love authentic Mexican food in Ames, has finished work on a brand new location and is now open for business.
Restaurant Co-Owner Albert Contreras told StoryCounty.News that although the COVID-19 pandemic did present challenges to the new building’s construction, he does not regret exercising the proper caution and patience. “Getting supplies, all the ordering…it all just took awhile to get,” Contreras explained. “We were originally aiming for an April opening, but due to the pandemic we waited. We didn’t want to rush anything. We wanted to be patient about it, that way we won’t have encounter major problems.”
The new place sits on a property just blocks to the west of the previous South Dayton Avenue spot. Contreras outlined some of the advantages that the new Isaac Newton Drive site brings to the table, which include outdoor dining and an overall more complete seating area. “We’re pretty excited about the new place, and it’s something that we had been looking to do for quite some time, since we were at Dayton location for 17 years,” he said. “We were able to get something that was a little more spacious, and it’s got the patio that we wanted.” At full capacity, the outdoor patio will be able to host around 24 guests. However, due to the State’s current restrictions related to social distancing, Contreras stated that only three or so patio tables will be implemented for the time being.
Contreras and his family, who also own and manage the El Azteca on North Stange Road in the Somerset neighborhood in Ames, took past experience into account when designing the new building. “It’s a very similar layout to our Somerset location,” Contreras relayed. “We took what we have at Somerset and learned from our mistakes. We have put things in place to make service a lot faster and just better overall for our customers.”
Contreras expressed optimism that El Azteca can thrive in the short-term at the new location, despite the non-ideal circumstances. “I know it’s hard because we will only be at 50 percent capacity, due to the pandemic,” he acknowledged. “But we just want the local people here in Ames to come and enjoy the place as much as they can. And, even though I know it’s not the same, we’re still offering curbside service and takeout.”
The brand new restaurant, located at 2120 Isaac Newton Drive, is open for its first day of business Tuesday. The following temporary hours of operation, due to the pandemic, will continue: Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contreras noted that although there are no opening-week specials or festivities currently in place, the family hopes that conditions will continue to improve, in order to allow some sort of formal grand opening in the future.