SANDY, Utah — Most small businesses fail within their first three years, according to the SBA. So if you beat those odds – you’re doing pretty good. But to be a local, family-owned small business for 30 years… well – that’s quite a success story. Rafael’s Mexican Restaurant in Sandy, UT is one of those success stories.
In the most successful family businesses, the son follows in his father’s footsteps and takes the business farther than father ever imagined. Jose Chavez developed a trusted Sandy source for Mexican food in 1979, and Daniel Chavez believes so much in his father’s vision that now, Rafael’s is celebrating being open for 30 years – and is one of the most delicious success stories restaurants Salt Lake has.
Rafael’s opened their doors in June of 1979. They started out in Sandy’s Union Square and spent 6 years there, but quickly out-grew the space.
They relocate to a bigger space in right on the then-busy, Sandy City “parade route” of 9400 South. They spent a robust 24 years at this location.
But restaurants, like people and places, have their ups and downs. And Rafael’s struggled through thick and thin… two full recessions, and the economic impact of September 11th.
Their deepest struggle came though, when the much-debated “ski route” along 90th South was opened, bypassing the hub-bub intersection at 9400 South and 700 East.
Rafael’s had very little traffic passing by, and began to struggle for new customers. Thanks to a faithful customer base they were able to stay afloat – but it was time to relocate once again. This time they were looking to benefit from the controversial “ski route”… and moved to their new home at 9108 Village Shop Drive, in Quarry Bend.
Now in their new location, they’ve spruced-up the ambiance but the menu hasn’t really changed much – it’s gotten better. In fact, some say it’s the best.
The word “best” when applied to Mexican food can mean different things to different people: some want dirt-cheap prices, some want authentic, some want the most. To me the “best” simply means “all of the above.” And that sums up Rafael’s. And illuminating Utahan’s palates to fresh, authentic Mexican food for three full decades is quite a track record.
In Mexican dining, the qualities that add up to perfection are hard to pin down, but easy to recognize. Besides dependably good food and consistently thoughtful service, the perfect Mexican restaurant has a distinct personality that shows-up in their food, and in their ambiance. Lucky for us, Rafael’s is one of those “perfect” places.
Rafael’s just seems to keep getting better and better. The reason? Sure, 30-years of practice makes perfect… but Rafael’s is a true pioneer for authentic Mexican food in Sandy. And who knew we were so hungry for it?
Meticulously handcrafted, fluffy-battered chile rellenos and Rafael’s rich chile verde can be hard to resist. Mexican food of this caliber is a “gateway food” – once your senses get used to this level of tastefulness, you’re just going to crave that deliciousness in everything you eat.
Rafael’s is a refuge for those seeking quick, fresh, authentic Mexican food. Unlike the line-up-at-the-cafeteria pop-up variety of Mexican food out-fits that are a fad these days, Rafael’s serves-up authentic entrees like mole enchiladas, fresh pico de galio, the best re-fried beans on the planet, hand rolled enchiladas, homemade tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas and flautas.
The bean dip alone is enough to make diners break into song. In fact, their bean dip is what brings many customers back. (You’ll get hooked on it should you give it a whirl.) But that’s just an appetizer at Rafael’s.
In spite of the fact that there are now over 30 employees, Rafael’s is still very much a family business. June 11-13 Rafael’s is celebrating their 30th Anniversary by adding several special Mexican foods to their menu, along with special pricing. Rafael’s has loved doing business in Sandy, and look forward to another 30 years.
More information: www.RafaelsMex.com.