Food critics are always some of the most stressful people to deal with, especially when you are a local restaurant trying to provide a quality experience for residents around your area. A profession and privilege once held only by the most refined palates, many people have taken to the internet and such services as Yelp and Urbanspoon to try their own hand at reviewing food.
While this does give the opportunity for people to voice their own opinions on local food, it also leads to unnecessary criticism that may be fueled by an already present dislike before entering the restaurant. In fact, some restaurants who can afford it will pay consumers to write scathing reviews competing businesses.
For Sol Picante, a local Mexican restaurant that prides itself on providing fresh-mex food, more than a few reviews went against their business practices and ideals. And, when you’re not affiliated with any national chain or brand, those type of reviews can sometimes be demoralizing.
One person who identifies themselves through the Yelp service as Jim M. went so far as to write, “How many more days can this microwaved slop house stay open.” He had also previously criticized the business over a year prior to his latest review on November 15, 2012.
While Jim was not alone in his criticisms of the restaurant, many more users defended Sol Picante for the way the food tasted, the atmosphere of the restaurant, and the service received while dining.
Luis Rodriguez, one of the two owners of Sol Picante, addressed the reviews.
“The first time I was frustrated,” said Rodriguez of his first time reading the reviews. “That happened around 8 months ago.”
The claims of Sol Picante’s product coming straight from packaging and onto the dinner tables ignited a passion inside both of the owners to try and expel the rumors that went against everything they want to stand for in a restaurant.
Serafin Mora, who has been a partial owner of the restaurant since he came to Sol Picante two months ago, wants to bring quality to the table before anything else.
“I like using fresh food. I try not to use any cans and use just fresh (ingredients), like fresh-mex (dining). I try to keep my customers happy by giving them good quality, good food, and good service. It’s healthy for the people. It was my dream, growing up, to provide fresh food.”
Quality and good service seem to be a staple at Sol Picante, who recently earned extremely high marks in a food and restaurant inspection. As was shown and described by Mora and Luis Rodriguez, this local Mexican restaurant preps their food on a daily basis in order to ensure the customer is receiving fresh food that does not have most of its life contained in a can. The passion for quality and fresh food stems from both of the owners’ experience in
“I was working in other Mexican restaurants for 14 years,” explained Rodriguez. “From Pendleton (Oregon) I moved to Eugene (and opened Sol Picante). I have lots of experience with Mexican restaurants.”
The experience that both owners obtained at past restaurants led both of them to want to incorporate more of a fresh flavor to Mexican food in Eugene. Opening two years ago, Sol Picante was built in a leased building that was once completely bare.
“We did everything you see here,” said Rodriguez of the interior of the restaurant. “The whole entire space was empty before we came here.”
Starting from bare walls, Sol Picante has surely come a long way without sacrificing its initial goal of providing fresh products despite the reviews of multiple dissenters. In fact, if you open the refrigerator at Sol Picante,you’ll find that it is relatively bare when compared to other restaurants; the explanation for this being the need to consistently rotate fresh materials into and out of the restaurant. While this may not be the most economical option, the owners at Sol Picante know that it is for the better of their customers.
“We are proud of our produce we serve every single day,” mentioned Rodriguez. “It is all fresh.”
While there will always be dissenters who may mock a business or company, Sol Picante has moved past their negative and inaccurate reviews while producing quality food for their customers every day.
As for those people who still doubt Sol Picante?
“I invite all my customers to my kitchen to see how we cook,” explained Mora. “I invite them back so they can see how we prepare their food and the quality of it. My kitchen is always open.”