Welcome to El Fogon, an Amazing Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Owasso, Oklahoma.
If you haven't visited the El Fogon Mexican restaurant at 11515 N Garnett Road in Owasso, then you're missing out on one of Owasso's best dining experiences!
Opened in March of 2006 by Vidal Palacios and his wife Gabriela and their daughter Ellie, El Fogon is a real life success story that began way back in 1986 when the family immigrated to California. Like many others, they were looking for opportunity and a better life. And they found it there, eventually settling in the Stockton, California area where they opened their first authentic Mexican restaurant. After being in business for 10 years, they wanted to own their own building . This was before the recession hit and property values were still at their highest, making it too expensive to be able to purchase a building for the restaurant. So they decided to look in other states to see if buying a building and running their business might be more affordable. And in one of those strange twists of fate, one of their customers told them they were going to be moving back to Owasso, Oklahoma. They mentioned how beautiful the area is and talked about how nice of a place the town is, with friendly people and affordable housing. This sparked interest in the family, so they booked a flight and flew to Owasso over the 4th of July weekend in 2005.
While the rest of us were enjoying fireworks and time off that 4th of July, they spent their weekend driving around town and checking out Owasso. They liked what they saw and also found that the building that they now occupy was for sale. The building had once been Legends BBQ. It had also been the home of an Italian restaurant and a burger joint as well. But the place was a mess when they found it. "It needed a good cleaning and a lot work," said Ellie with a smile.
Nevertheless, they decided by the end of the weekend that they were moving to Oklahoma. And they did. They bought the building and closed on it in November of 2005. Then they arrived in Owasso for good in early February of 2006, after selling their Mexican restaurant back in California. Then they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The plan was to have their new restaurant up and running in two weeks. Instead it took two months to get the building completely cleaned up, fixed up and ready to go. Some of their work included putting in the new interior ceiling, replacing the insulation in the ceiling, installing a new air conditioning system, adding new equipment in the kitchen, buying new carpet and buying all the tables and chairs.
So, why would a family move all the way from the west coast to Owasso, Oklahoma in a developing recession in order to begin a Mexican restaurant business? And why would they sell a successful, income producing business to do that? Well, you already know that it was partially because they wanted to own their own building for their business, but that's only part of the answer. It's also because that's the kind of people that Vidal and Gabriela are. They saw a great opportunity in Owasso to pursue what we call the American dream. And they weren't afraid to go for it. They would question the wisdom of their decision many times, especially when they saw lots of money going out with none coming in during the remodel phase. But this families isn't quitters. They do what it takes to get the job done.
Want an example? How about this...they still own two houses in California that they are trying to sell, but can't right now. The California housing market has lost incredible value and houses that were once worth huge amounts of money are worth much less today. But Vidal and Gabriela aren't the kind of people who are willing to just walk away from those houses. Instead, they fulfill their obligation. They've got one leased which pays about half of the house payment. They're making the full payment on the other one and paying the remaining half on the leased house. And they're doing this all from the income of their Mexican restaurant business here in Owasso. They choose to do this because they choose to be responsible. They know the housing market will come back someday and when it does, they'll sell the houses and move forward.
And they bring this work ethic to their restaurant business as well. Everything at El Fogon is hand made from scratch, including the delicious chips and incredible Salsa you get to enjoy when you sit down for a great meal. Vidal developed the menu and serves as the main chef. He's been a chef for more than 20 years, but when they opened the new authentic Mexican restaurant here in Owasso, he found that he was going to have to experiement with some things in order to offer menu choices that people would enjoy. For example, white sauce and queso and even sopapias were new to this family. They'd never heard of such things before! (They're not authentic to Mexican cuisine). Today they offer incredible menu items and a roasted tomato salsa that they developed in 1999 and brought with them from their very first restaurant in California. On Fridays, they have to make 50 pounds of Salsa, just to cover the day!
Naturally, it was slow going when they first opened up. People in Owasso weren't used to authentic Mexican food. And El Fogon didn't have white sauce yet, but little by little they started getting more business. Today they have a loyal customer base and are usually packed at lunch time. They're very thankful to their customers, especially those who have become friends. Vidal and Gabriella and Ellie view them like family. And their customers feel the same way too. One of them, a general contractor, donated and installed the new front door at the restaurant (in trade for some of that Salsa and authentic Mexican cooking I heard!).
So how are they doing today? Ellie told me that the business has grown 50% since they first opened back in 2006. Not bad in a struggling economy, I'd say!
So, if you're looking for something different, unique and original, head over to El Fogon. You'll love the friendly service and you'll really love the food! I guarantee, you'll be back for more!
El Fogon is open seven days a week. Their hours Monday through Fridays are 10:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. On Saturdays, they are open from 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. and on Sundays their hours are 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. They offer take out orders as well as some catering services also. You can reach them at 918-371-6230.
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