Middleburg’s newest restaurant venture is bringing a Mexican flair to Washington Street.
La Hacienda Tex-Mex & Grill Restaurant opened for business on Sunday in the 4,252-square-foot building that Julien’s Café once called home.
With the only Mexican restaurant within 10 miles, co-owners Cesar Ramirez and brothers José and Arnoldo Vides are busy feeding residents and visitors seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. They’re planning a formal grand opening in January with margaritas and wine at happy hour prices—and something the town hasn’t seen much of in its 231-year history: live music from a Mariachi band.
Although it is their first venture together, the owners aren’t newcomers to the industry; they boast a combined 43 years of experience in the restaurant business. While the Vides brothers bring 21 years of experience to the table, Ramirez brings 22, all working in managerial positions at restaurants.
For the past 20 years, Ramirez worked as the regional manager for Foster’s Grille. He also worked for three years as a general manager with Anita’s New Mexico Style Restaurant. Before any of that, he gained experience crunching numbers working as an accountant for an American company in Mexico. “That’s why I feel confident,” he said.
The deal to open La Hacienda came together at the end of last month, when José’s former boss, the owner of Julien’s, asked him if he’d want to open a restaurant there. After discussions with Ramirez and Arnoldo, the three hatched a business plan. Two weeks later, they were ready to open.
“That’s how it came,” Ramirez said. “Everything happened so fast.”
La Hacienda—named “the ranch” in Spanish for the thousands of acres of farmland surrounding the town—is serving up a full menu of Tex-Mex dishes, including the Burrito California, an 8-ounce “Steak a la Mexicana” and chimichangas. “The chimichanga is a boom,” Ramirez said.
Like other businesses in town, the team also plans to get involved in community events like spirit nights and Dining for Dollars fundraisers. Ramirez said that The Hill School has invited him over to promote his restaurant. “We definitely want to get more involved with the community and see how we can help,” he said.
La Hacienda is the first Mexican restaurant to open in the town since El Agave moved out four years ago. That makes Middleburg a bit of an eclectic food destination. There are currently 14 restaurants in town that specialize in everything from Thai food and sushi to deli food and five-star dining.
Business & Economic Development Director Jamie Gaucher said the diversity adds value to the town. “It really is an anchor for our local economy,” he said.
Town Administrator Danny Davis agreed, noting that it shows that people are looking for different kinds of dining experiences. “The options really are great,” he said.
Less than a week after opening, Ramirez and the Vides brothers are looking at opening another location in 2019 that could take them to the Gainesville area.
For just right now, though, they’re happy to be the only Mexican restaurant serving the residents and visitors of Middleburg.
“I really want to encourage people to give us a shot,” Ramirez said. “I’m pretty sure that we are not going to disappoint them.”