Rosa Mexicano opens 19th eatery in Paseo Caribe
Fine dining eatery Rosa Mexicano is opening the 19th restaurant in its chain today, when it will also become the first commercial tenant of the upscale real estate development Paseo Caribe in San Juan.
The $2.2 million, 245-seat restaurant overlooking the Atlantic features a full menu of contemporary Mexican dishes and unique cocktails. With its arrival, franchisee Ocean Front Hospitality Group expects to cater to a discerning local crowd, as well as tourists staying at hotels in the Old San Juan, Miramar and Condado vicinity.
The most recent addition to the Rosa Mexicano chain, which features the same dramatic architectural details — a cascading water wall against a vibrant palette of purples, pinks, reds and oranges — as its sister locations, took three years to arrive to Puerto Rico.
“This property has been like a match made in heaven for us, because it’s a franchise that is very mindful of the quality of its procedures, its products and is very protective of its brand. We take our time deciding when it comes to setting up a restaurant,” said Héctor Santiago, one of four company partners, along with executives Julio Canales and Luis García, and popular Chef Roberto Treviño.
The foursome also partner in Lola and The Boys Inc., the parent company of Casa Lola restaurant, which opened almost three years ago in an 18,000 square-foot manor on Ashford Avenue looking out over the Condado Lagoon.
“We’ve spent time analyzing when and where to establish the operation, including Puerto Rico’s economic situation. However, things have gone well with Casa Lola, and we know there’s a niche, a pocket of businesses like these that patrons continue to visit as long as the offer, the food, service and environment is good,” Canales said.
The first Rosa Mexicano (which means “Mexican pink”) opened in 1984 with chef and co-founder Josefina Howard and has spread from New York to Miami to Los Angeles since then.
“We’re expecting to get a push from the brand’s popularity along the U.S. east coast. Right now, our hotels are experiencing one of their best seasons in years and we’re targeting that crowd,” Canales said, adding that their expectations are reaching $4.5 million in sales in the first year of operations, offering a conservative projection which is less than half of what stateside Rosa Mexicano locations register.
“If there were a boom, then we would expect to be in the $6 million to $7 million range,” he said, adding that starting today, the company will begin monitoring customer behavior, to determine where they come from
The eatery falls into the so-called “casual elegant” category, which Canales said is the restaurant industry’s most stable segment. While Ocean Front Hospitality Group has a license to open at least two restaurants on the island, a decision on whether another Rosa Mexicano will join the local chain will not come before the San Juan location’s second anniversary, the executive added.
“This is a category that has many opportunities, which is what we’re trying to develop. There’s nothing similar to Rosa Mexicano in the area — the location and scenery is like no other,” Canales said.
The new restaurant is generating 101 jobs — six management and 94 regular staff. Furthermore, the new eatery will be sourcing a number of ingredients locally, including fresh fish (Mahi Mahi and Snapper) as well as hydroponically grown cilantro and tomatoes, company officials said.
Jason Berry, Rosa Mexicano’s chief operating officer, said the Puerto Rico location is “probably one of the easiest openings I’ve ever done. I’ve been here for nine years and I’ve opened all but the first three restaurants. We’re thrilled to be here.”
“This is by far the most beautiful location of any Rosa [Mexicano] in the world. Rosa is very special because it’s not your typical Mexican food, we do things a little different,” said the executive, who spent most of the last month on the island working with management and staff on the details of the business.