Jenny Luna
Special to the Bonanza

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March 7, 2013
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Meet Your Merchant: T's is for Tahoe - restaurant continues to cook around the clock

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Whether referred to as T's Mesquite Rotisserie, T's Burritos, or just T's, the location and menu at one of Incline's favorite eateries is well-known to locals and visitors alike.

Jamie Swing is a young, friendly man who can be found behind the counter and in front of the rotisserie, smiling and greeting customers. He takes orders and speaks Spanglish with the cooks. As his father, Chuck, semi-retires, Jamie plans to take over the family business, and in doing so has slowly become the face of T's Mesquite Rotisserie.

"I try to smile and be nice to everyone," Jamie said. "Smile and have a good time."

Jamie and other T's employees often sport the restaurant's T-shirt, now sold in the store, with a play on Keep Tahoe Blue. The shirt reads: "I hella love Tahoe and wanna keep it blue and stuff."

Many of the staff are family members or good friends and have been at T's for years. Experience is a main ingredient to success in a kitchen as swamped and as swift as T's.

"We've had the crew for so long," Jamie said. "Everyone knows what they are doing. Everyone's comfortable together."

Cook Carmelo Ortiz began making burritos and quesadillas at T's five years ago with both his brother and sister, who have been there for ten.

Carmelo said he wasn't used to the speed of the kitchen when he first started.

"I used to have nightmares," he said. "In your dreams you're cooking, cooking."

He admits the busy days can be taxing and the long lines overwhelming, but he says he has learned to really concentrate.

"It's not easy," he said. "But what thing is easy?"

Bringing in repeat customers is pretty easy for T's. A steady flow of people can usually be found weekday or weekend, coming in for burritos or tri-tip or chicken combo plates "for here" or "to go." Stopping at T's is a custom for many people passing through Incline.

Trevor Fields is a regular at T's, and although from Reno, he makes sure to stock up when he's in the area.

"When I come to Incline I come to T's," he said. "We come up to climb and get a burrito to start the day, or a burrito to end the day."

Fields usually enjoys a tri-tip burrito at the counter and takes one to go for lunch tomorrow.

"We're super lucky people see us as a staple," Jamie said. "It's awesome to think they think about us every time they come into town. We see the same faces each summer."

In summer months, business booms, with beach-goers on the way home from Sand Harbor standing in a line that runs out the door. The rotisserie can go through 80 whole chickens per day, and the cooks use about 60 cases of tortillas, Carmelo said. Business slows in winter, but local rotisserie fans still eat at T's.

"We are lucky to have local loyal customers because the town is so seasonal," Jamie said.

T's Mesquite Rotisserie has a clientele and a staff that speak English, Spanish and Spanglish and has a menu of Mexican fare mixed with a bit of American: chips and salsas, burritos, sandwiches and tri-tip or chicken plates with classic sides such as coleslaw, potato salad and garlic bread.

"It's a mix - not totally Mexican, not totally American," Carmelo said.

Families and friends enjoy the quick service and the good food, he added.

"It's pretty cheap, it's good food and it's always fast," Carmelo said.

Twenty three years after Chuck Swing opened T's, the original salsa recipes and straight-forward menu are intact and here to stay.

And Jamie has no plan of changing them.

"It's a working formula," he said. "There is no need to make it more complicated."

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 7, 2013 11:33AM Published Mar 7, 2013 11:27AM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.