On a sunny Wednesday outside La Rondalla, owner Carlos Barrios held the door open for two delivery men bringing in fresh produce. Barrios stopped for a moment, opened one of the boxes with spinach, grabbed a few leaves to put them in his mouth and then nodded. Only then did he give the go-ahead to finish bringing the produce inside.
Outside La Rondalla, big Corona banners anticipate a Cinco de Mayo celebration, but the signs for the reopening say May 1st. “This is an opportunity for my daughters to get their feet wet, in an experience that they learned from me so, we’ll see,” Barrios said with a smile.
People walking on Valencia kept stopping by and asking when they would be open, as if they didn’t quite believe the signs. La Rondalla had to close in 2007 after not passing health inspections and there have been countless LaRondalla watches and guesses – by Carlos Barrios and others – on when opening day would finally arrive. Although the “hiring for all positions” signs have been up for at least a month, it’s clear they are still hiring up.
Today Selvin Lanza, 36, was there to interview with Betty, Barrio’s daughter who will be running the restaurant. “I am here for whatever they need, be it a washer, a food preparer or anything,” said Lanza, who is originally from Honduras, but has lived in the neighborhood for more than 10 years and has worked in kitchens for that long as well. “I like this place, it’s huge, it’s nice and I like Valencia Street.”
Lanza works at another restaurant on Divisadero, but said he prefers to work in the Mission. Being closer to home, he said, “everything is easier and faster.”
One of those people anxious for opening day was Jack Monroe, 60, who decided to park his black Mercedes Benz for a few minutes to talk. Monroe, a Castro resident, said he is originally from Boston and that “this was the first Mexican restaurant I had ever been to” and that he had been coming for 40 years.
Monroe’s favorite dish: a tasty skirt steak with sautéed French fries and topped with tomatoes and onions that added a lot of flavor, he said.
Monroe has followed La Rondalla’s progress closely and is eager to get another meal there. “They used to have a mariachi band with a singer, it was very flamboyant,” he said.
As for the food, he hopes it will be the same, but with “a better attention to details.”
Gabriela Ramirez, a Mission business owner and resident, also hopes to see improvements. Ramirez recalled a caldo de pollo at La Rondalla that “just wasn’t the best.” However, she will come with her daughters because “if the food looks tasty, I will try it.”
As for Monroe, he’ll be coming with his partner “tomorrow if it’s not too crazy.”
To apply for a job position at La Rondalla, email Betty at Larondallasf@yahoo.com