By Don Nelson
When he opened the second Carlos1800 restaurant in Wenatchee a little more than two years ago, Methow Valley entrepreneur Carlos Perez said he was just beginning his planned expansion of the local franchise.
Perez is about to follow through with the newest Carlos1800 Mexican Grill & Cantina, in the heart of downtown Leavenworth. The restaurant will open in early 2014, Perez said.
The Leavenworth restaurant, at 633 Front St. in the center of the town’s pedestrian traffic corridor, extends the Carlos1800 reach by about 20 miles up U.S. Highway 2 – still manageable for Perez, who already visits the Wenatchee site frequently.
The original Carlos1800 opened in the old Winthrop Palace building on Riverside Avenue in Winthrop about three-and-a-half years ago.
The Leavenworth location, previously a restaurant, will have about 3,800 square feet of usable space and will seat about 160 (compared to 225 in Winthrop and 80 in Wenatchee), Perez said.
Because Leavenworth is a Bavarian theme town, the new restaurant will keep its exterior look, but Perez will do some interior remodeling. He expects to have 15 to 20 employees there.
“It has great foot traffic,” Perez said of the Leavenworth location. “We will offer good food in a good location.”
Perez has his eye on other potential sites, including Seattle, and plans to open at least half-a-dozen more restaurants. But he said Winthrop will always be his base.
“This is my home,” he said. “I feel blessed to be here in the valley.”
Perez purchased the Winthrop Palace building last year. He is leasing the other two sites.
In addition to the restaurants, Perez operates a catering business and a consulting firm that helps restaurants get up and running.
Perez said he enjoys developing new ideas and planning for growth. “What I do best is create systems,” he said. “We use technology to stay on top of the business.”
Half-a-dozen key employees make sure things are running smoothly, he said.
As for the 1800 part of the restaurants’ name, Perez said he’s often asked what it means. The number is a reference to the Town of Winthrop’s founding in the late 1800s, he said.