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Business Beat: Casa Don Quixote owners say food is their passion

Sharing the foods and flavors of his native Spain has long been a dream of Eligio Gomez Morais.

That’s behind the name of his new restaurant, Casa Don Quixote, that began a series of “soft opening” events earlier this month at 1129 Arizona St.

Morais said Don Quixote, the fictional gallant knight in Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, was always fighting for something he believed in, pursuing his “impossible dream.”

Now, after immigrating to the United States from his native Spain via years in Switzerland working in the restaurant industry, Morais said he is living his “impossible dream.”

He is the first to admit that he is not a chef, although he enjoys cooking. He said he has a passion for food, but his specialty is running the front of the restaurant.

“I’m too social to be closed in the kitchen,” he said.

Instead, he shared his recipes with multiple chefs and let them perfect the dishes.

“He likes to make sure people understand and know what they are eating,” said Grace Sanez, his wife and partner in the business. “It’s food that tells a story.”

To ensure that people don’t think Casa Don Quixote is a Mexican restaurant, Morais is putting the emphasis on Mediterranean foods and tapas — small, savory and shareable Spanish dishes.

An additional part of creating that homelike atmosphere will be serving dishes family style, he said.

“When I think of food, the first thing that comes to mind is family,” Morais said.

“For me it is not just a restaurant. It’s more like a living room,” Sanez said.

Morais said Mediterranean influences, those from Italy, France and Portugal, played a big part of the cuisine in the area where he was raised — Galicia, Spain.

In addition to the dishes they are serving, Morais and Sanez are putting Spanish wines, beers and water on the menu.

Casa Don Quixote is the couple’s first business together.

They said finding the Boulder City location seemed like fate. After trying unsuccessfully to find a place to open the restaurant in Las Vegas, Morais was visiting Boulder City and saw the vacant spot on Arizona Street. He said it only took about 15 minutes to share his vision and passion with Bret Runion and Grant Turner, who own the building, to determine it was a good fit for them all.

But, before committing fully to the location, they served a trial dinner to several community residents to see if their menu would be accepted by the community.

“It so exceeded our expectations,” Morais said. “My phone was ringing for days with questions about when we would be opening.”

He said making sure his customers are happy and enjoying their food is something that is important to him.

“They gave us lots of support,” Sanez added, referring to those who attended the dinner, as well as Runion and Turner.

As immigrants, the two said they know that a taste of home is important to other immigrants, as well as providing them a way to share a part of their culture.

Sanez, a native of the Philippines, has been in the United States since February 2016 and Morais has been in the U.S. since September 2018.

The two said they are excited about getting to be a part of the community and getting to know more about the people who live here.

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