St. George start-up Café Rio opens its 58th on the East Coast; Utahns remain ‘superfans’

Café Rio Mexican Grill, St. George | Dave Amodt, St. George News
Café Rio Mexican Grill, St. George, Utah, Jan. 14, 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Cafe Rio Mexican Grill opened its first restaurant in St. George, Utah, in 1997. This week, it continues its nationwide expansion with the grand opening of its seventh east coast location in the D.C. area, marking the restaurant chain’s 58th overall.

As is customary with each CaféRio grand opening, the company will be making a charitable contribution in the form of a $2,500 donation to the local public school, in this case Frederick County Public School. According to its press release, over the course of 2012, more than $75,000 was donated to public schools and various charities in conjunction with Café Rio restaurant openings.

As far as Washington County, Utah, is concerned, Café Rio Media Representative Jennifer Burns said that the company looks at its initiatives as a state overall.

“We have a very robust school program where we support the overall Utah school system,” Burns said, “it’s an ongoing supporting relationship with the school system … from fundraisers to donations.”

Although there are not any new Café Rio restaurant plants planned for Southern Utah in the immediate plans, Burns said the company always looks at growth in Utah, calling Utah customers “superfans.”

“We have such a loyal customer base … St. George is one of our strongest markets.”

The company’s determination and commitment to excellence is most evident in the freshness of the ingredients it uses for its traditional Mexican food, and its friendly employees. The restaurant’s strict ‘no microwaves and no freezers’ policy has been a part of what sets it apart from the competition. According to its press release, each location starts the day early hand-squeezing over 1,000 limes, hand-scooping fresh avocados and making its award-winning authentic Mexican recipes from scratch. Every tortilla is handmade to order in front of each customer. Café Rio maintains that the hard work and dedication demonstrated by each team member has paid off, winning over 60 national awards for Cafe Rio’s made-from-scratch traditional Mexican food.

“We strongly believe in being a part of our local community, and we are grateful that our first six east coast locations have been welcomed so openly in Virginia and Maryland,” Chief Marketing Officer Ben Craner said.

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill has being voted No. 1 Restaurant in the nation for the second straight year by Sandelman and Associates’ 2011 Quick-Track Award for overall customer satisfaction. It edged out 200 of the nation’s largest restaurants, including Chipotle and In-n-Out Burger.

The company’s restaurants span Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

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Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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