Mount Angel welcomes new Mexican restaurant
The empty storefront on North Main Street in Mount Angel was simply too good to pass up.
After opening his first Chapala Express restaurant in Canby in 2017, Aldo Schroeder had been looking around the Willamette Valley for a place to expand into a second location.
Schroeder had been looking at larger cities like Salem or Oregon City, or perhaps his hometown of Molalla for his next venture, but the boarded up restaurant front on Mount Angel's main drag had everything he could possibly want.
It was highly visible on a primary thoroughfare through town, it was smack dab in the middle of his customer base and, most importantly, it was ground central for the biggest annual party in the entire region.
"It was kind of an accident really," Schroeder said. "We just drove by and saw that it was available, and the first thing that popped into my mind was Oktoberfest."
It was a no-brainer. Schroeder set up shop in the location at 225 N. Main St. and held the grand opening for Chapala Express on June 21.
The restaurant is a reflection of Schroeder's ambitious nature. Chapala Express features a variety of Mexican staples, from tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, rice and beans, churros, horchada and more. But in a market that is saturated with Mexican restaurants, Schroeder knows it takes something different to stand out.
"I think when people open up restaurants, everybody asks 'What's going to be different at your restaurant than anybody else's?'" he said. "The biggest thing people say is that my food is going to taste better.
"The reality is, you can't just go off of that. You actually have to do something better, be something better."
Walking into his Mount Angel location, customers are greeted with a pair of high definition screens displaying the menu items in crisp clarity. A small corner of the television shows the restaurant's wi-fi name and password for patrons to connect to while they wait and eat.
Schroeder is quick to embrace technology as part of his business model. Customers can download and order from the Chapala Express app, an idea he got via setting up his haircut appointments online at the Great Clips location in Woodburn.
"I'd set my appointments, and when I got there, I was ready to go," Schroeder said. "I was like, if only there was an app like that for food, it would be nice when you get off work, you put your order in, go pick up your food."
Orders from the app connect directly to video displays inside the kitchen, allowing employees to coordinate their take-out orders. With many people commuting through the small communities in the valley, Schroeder wanted to make it easy for people passing through town on their way home from work to be able to pick up their food and go without much hassle.
The model worked well at his Canby location, which sees customers from the Silverton and Woodburn areas, another reason why he felt Mount Angel would be a welcome place to open another restaurant.
Another way he wants to make his restaurant stand out is through his connection to the community. When he opened his Canby location, Schroeder's staff and volunteers worked on a program to pick up garbage, and did yard work for people that don't have the tools or the time and help veterans by doing more things to help, with the proceeds going to a nonprofit local veteran's agency.
His goal is to make each restaurant more than just a place to eat, but a part of the community it is located it, from its storefront to its employees.
"It's like a family," Schroeder said. "It really helps us to push the character and atmosphere that we want to our customers."
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