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Opening a Second El Fogon Mexican Grill During the Pandemic

El Fogon in DSM

June 10, 2021

I’ve lived in Greater Des Moines (DSM) for four years. What I love about the region is how many business opportunities there are — what doesn’t exist here already can be created. I’m originally from Mexico and studied sociology; however, when I came to Iowa and worked in the restaurant industry, I found that I loved talking with customers and being amid the bustle of a busy restaurant. After opening the first El Fogon restaurant, customers came to expect high-quality food, drinks and service from us — and they have loved the handmade tortillas and fresh guacamole!

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic happening, it felt like the world stopped, but it also presented an opportunity for us to ask ourselves an important question: What is it you really want to do with the business? We’d always wanted to have a restaurant in West Glen Town Center. Last year, we opened one. At the time, there were no expectations because of the pandemic. In a way, 2021 has been more difficult than 2020 because now there is the expectation to keep up with reopening changes.

El Fogon now has two locations in DSM. The original restaurant opened at 1250 8th St. in West Des Moines, while El Fogon West Glen opened at 5465 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 101 in August of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As things reopen, I am also becoming more involved with community organizations and groups, including the Latina Leadership Initiative, where I am vice chair. While development programs like the Latina Leadership Initiative take time, they are vital to helping business owners succeed in DSM, and I highly recommend other minority business owners in the area look for organizations like this to take part in and get more involved.

Advice for the Latinx Community

In the future, my hope is to expand El Fogon and open a third location in DSM. It’s an exciting time in the region, and I love seeing all of the development happening here. To those within the Latinx community, I suggest the following:

  • Invest in yourself.
  • Take classes.
  • Get out and network. You never know who you might meet.
  • Don’t forget to give back.

I hope you’ll come by and visit El Fogon West Glen and see the new location this summer!

El Fogon is one of many restaurants in Greater Des Moines (DSM) that offers patio dining. You can find more options using the DSMlocal Patio Dining Guide for featured items at restaurants in the region.

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.

Blanca Plascencia

Blanca Plascencia is manager of two El Fogon Mexican Grill restaurants in West Des Moines, Iowa. She is also the 2021 vice chair of the Latina Leadership Initiative.