Chilean eatery cooks up quick clientele |

Chilean eatery cooks up quick clientele

A signpost above the Grass Valley building still advertises the pasties once served inside. The structure itself looks aged and forgotten, with little on the facade that indicates the world inside 217 Colfax Ave.

Other than a small sandwich board with the handwritten name Diego’s, there isn’t much to indicate a restaurant is thriving inside. Well, except for the rapidly growing reputation of the establishment.

Upon entering Diego’s restaurant, customers are greeted with the warmth, color, smells and sounds of Chilean culture. The new venture was opened about a month ago by Nevada County natives June Henriquez and her mother, Diane Robison.

“I wanted to bring a new flavor of food here,” Henriquez said.

Although she grew up in the county, Henriquez is very familiar with the Latin American culture behind the inspiration for Diego’s.

Henriquez traveled to Chile nine years ago as a professional snowboarder. What began as a three-month trip lasted more than two years. While there, she met her husband, Antonio Henriquez.

The couple eventually returned to Grass Valley.

The restaurant idea came about two years ago, when the space was vacated after King Richard’s Pasties No. 2 went out of business. The building was owned by June Henriquez’s family. Her grandfather had built it in the 1960s to house his own business.

For about a year and a half, Henriquez and her mother worked side-by-side to completely refurbish the space. The building that originally served as the Robison family’s Millscraft TV appliance store was transformed into a Chilean restaurant.

Diego’s opened just before Christmas. The owners wanted to slowly ease into opening the restaurant during the traditionally slow month of January. There was very little promotion or any advertisement about the opening. But word of mouth from customers has helped pack the tables on a daily basis, they said.

With the help of her mother-in-law, Henriquez cooks the meals, her husband, Antonio, bakes all goods served, and Robison does whatever else needs to be done. Robison’s 80-year-old mother, June, even helps bus tables on occasion.

Then there is the restaurant’s namesake, the Henriquezes’ 5-year-old son, Diego.

“For us, (the restaurant) is a blend of our cultures, just like our son,” June Henriquez said.

The menu offers a fusion of Chilean and American tastes. It is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday for lunch. Dinners are served Friday and Saturday nights, from 4 to 9 p.m. Diego’s is closed Sunday and Monday.

For more information, call 477-1460.

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