As Isaias Puntiel and his family recently hung an "open for business" sign in the window of their new restaurant, they hoped it would soon yield signs of relief to their struggles.
Unsuccessful bids for employment led them to a busy York City intersection where they found hope in the bones of an old bar, which now serves as a perch for everything from palitos de quezo (mozzarella sticks) to picalonga (a dish with pork sausage and plantains).
Esquina Latina, an authentic Latin restaurant, has been living up to its English translation since Saturday, transforming the spot where its 644 S. Queen St. address meets East Cottage Place into a "Latin corner."
Puntiel said he and the other family owners picked that busy corner, hoping their many Latin stews would stir a profit while offering competitive prices to customers.
"We wanted to make money for everybody," Puntiel said.
The daily house special -- rice, beans, rotisserie chicken or stew, and salad -- is $5.99, and two additional specials are offered Monday through Friday, which include dishes with roasted pork, ribs, steak and potatoes. Small and large stews are offered on the weekends for $6 to $12. The appetizers range from $1.25 to $3 and include yuca cake, stuffed potatoes and empanadas.
"We try to offer something different," Puntiel said.
As customers walked into the new restaurant, which is decorated with festive banners and colors, family worker Jason Tavarez served up the best seller -- rice, beans and chicken.
While the customers may have decided the restaurant's best dish, Tavarez has not. When Puntiel asked him to pick his favorite dish, he answered simply: "Everything."
But Yanelly De los Santos Tavarez, the restaurant's cook, easily chose pernil -- a roasted pork shoulder dish -- as her favorite. She said she buys fresh meats for the mixed plates and stews, and the restaurant's ingredients are "all natural," according to the menu. The meats are often slow roasted before being added to the stews, which simmer all day.
Though the brood was getting along just fine during its grand opening, Puntiel admitted the family does have its business battles.
"We have our conflicts like any family," he said, but they're all committed to making the restaurant a success.
"In the next few months, we want to have karaoke and dominoes ... things you may not get everywhere else," Puntiel said.
Esquina Latina is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Delivery service is available for orders totaling $10 or more. Call 854-1562 for more information.
-- Reach Candy Woodall at 505-5437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.