By CONNOR DZIAWURA
Foothills Focus Staff Writer
With the stay-at-home order over and many restaurants trying to return to some semblance of normalcy, while still maintaining safe practices during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one local establishment is aiming to increase convenience for its customers.
Cave Creek’s Fantasticós Mexican Food, which joined the community last year, is doing so with the addition of drive-thru and online ordering.
The drive-thru is open from 4 to 10 p.m. daily. Normal restaurant hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Asked about the decision to incorporate the new features at the family-owned eatery, co-owner Noe Rodriguez said customers have been asking for a drive-thru “since day one.”
“It’s how you give a better service to the customers. It’s convenient,” he explained. “Online ordering is very convenient, and a lot of people do it now; it’s very common. And a drive-thru is always more convenient, too.
“It’s better for us when we handle more business. Bottom line we’re looking to get more sales.”
The drive-thru and online capabilities arguably come at the right time, as many people may still be wary about going out following the end of Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order. Though Fantasticós can seat people on-site—albeit 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing—some customers may perhaps prefer more-convenient ordering and pickup methods.
“We’ve been really lucky, because in that area where we are, there’s a lot of restaurants that shut down,” Rodriguez said of the pandemic. “So we ended up being one of the few restaurants that were open.”
Aside from modifications to ordering, Rodriguez plans to launch some new seafood items in the near future. While he was quick to dish out some hints of the new offerings, the details are still being worked out—though he said items could launch within the week.
“We have a lot of seafood items already, but we’re going to add more cocktails, more ceviche and aguachile, which are seafood dishes that are cool, because a lot of people in summertime, they look for cool things to eat, like shrimp and cocktails and shaved ice and salads,” he explained. “That becomes a big hit.”
Rodriguez said he “learned the trade” when he was just 12, assisting his uncle with a chain of Mexican restaurants in San Diego. Since then, he continued on his own journey into restaurant ownership, running joints everywhere from California to Salt Lake City; Las Vegas; and Pocatello, Idaho.
Currently, there’s another Fantasticós in Sun Lakes—which Rodriguez noted had success with a drive-thru window. Two more locations tentatively will open next month—one in Wickenburg and one in Fallbrook, California.
“What I’ve learned through the years is I try to stay away from the competition so we don’t have to fight for the customers,” Rodriguez said of opening in Cave Creek last year. “So when I noticed that there was no taco shop in town, I go, ‘Man, this is it.’
“There was this big sit-down place, which I don’t compete with; they have full service. Mine is a fast-food joint; people get in-and-out quick service. And that’s how when I saw Cave Creek, I immediately fell in love with it, because there was nothing similar to what we do.”