Tortilla Grill tries for second success
Senior Staff Writer
What do you do with a restaurant that takes off like a skyrocket in its first year?
Apparently, you open another one just like it.
That’s what former television show producer Andrew Roperto and his wife, Hope, are doing today when they open another Tortilla Grill at 840 E. Main St. in Grass Valley, next to Sierra Cinemas. The restaurant will have the same fresh and quick meals with entrees at $7.50 and under, which Roperto thinks made the initial Tortilla Grill in Nevada City so popular.
“We wanted a place for people to come to whether they have a ton or money or not,” said the former producer of “Trading Spouses” and other reality shows for the Fox TV network.
Grass Valley residents eating at the Nevada City Tortilla Grill kept asking Roperto when he was going to open one in their town, so he decided to oblige them one year and three days after opening the original.
Roperto grew up in Denver, where his family owned Italian restaurants, so he knew the success formula.
“There’s a standard in the restaurant business that if you strive to be just good, you won’t make it,” Roperto said. “You have to strive to be the best and be excellent.”
The Ropertos knew they would eventually leave Los Angeles after the birth of their first son, Oliver, now 4. When second son Aidan was born two years ago, the “exit strategy” of starting a restaurant in a nice area built momentum.
Friends from Truckee told them about Nevada City and Grass Valley, and they still can’t believe they found the area.
“We were looking for a place to raise our kids and send them off to college,” Roperto said. “I wanted a Norman Rockwell kind of place, and my friends in L.A. said it doesn’t exist anymore. They come up here now and can’t believe it.
“It’s surreal, coming from the movies and finding something that was like what’s on back lots, but it’s real.”
Now when he walks the streets of Nevada City, people shake his hand and thank him for opening the first Tortilla Grill.
“It’s the stuff that goes in movie scripts,” he said.
When the Ropertos arrived in 2004, “we didn’t even know the South Yuba River was just down the road.”
With their former executive chief friend and business partner James Sherman training staff and performing quality checks four times a year, Roperto feels confident he can keep his restaurants consistent.
It’s all about fresh ingredients and good food served quickly, he said. The new restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The restaurant will be closed on Sundays during April to work the kinks out, Roperto said. After that, the restaurant will open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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