Community Connections: Verde owners celebrate 5-year anniversary, and growing up in Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It’s been nearly 5 years since Domi and Katy Chavarria opened Verde Mexican Rotisserie in Meyers. In that time, not only have they run a restaurant and raised a family, they’ve done it with the support of each other and the community where they were born.
Their story started at the Fresh Ketch where Domi was the head chef and Katy was the hostess. Although they were both born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, their paths didn’t cross until working together.
After a short stint in San Diego for Katy, and a continued long distance relationship, she moved back and the two eventually married.
While Domi stayed in the food industry, moving into food distribution, he couldn’t help but feel like the two needed to open up their own restaurant in Tahoe.
“In doing distribution, I got to see a lot of restaurants in the region,” says Domi. “I knew we could do it and once I got that into Katy’s head and she started talking to people about it, it was over.”
Those people were family, friends, and locals, like the Chavarria’s.
“From us being born and raised here, we knew a lot of people and their families know a lot of people,” added Katy. “There’s support in that way and they are conscious of supporting everyone they know in the community – it comes full circle.”
While creating the idea of Verde, Domi and Katy welcomed their first son into the world. If anyone has ever raised a child and opened up a restaurant from scratch, you’ll know doing both, much less at the same time, is not easy.
As the two were planning the food side of the business, Domi noted a need for Mexican cuisine in Meyers.
“It wasn’t my background – I spent a year at the California Sushi Academy. But I felt Mexican was a genre that people could eat multiple times each week,” he said.
Katy added, “We wanted to do it on the healthier side, though. Local ingredients, non-processed oils and sustainable meats – enjoying the food, but without the guilt.”
Once the restaurant opened it was all hands on deck. It wasn’t uncommon for Katy to be seen with their 1-year old strapped to her in a carrier while cashiering and running food.
Domi, who was still working his 40-hour job in distribution, would chip in and do whatever was needed until he ultimately devoted his full time efforts to the restaurant. And when the opportunity opened up to add another location at the Crossing, the two jumped – despite also adding another child along the way.
“The Meyers community was great to us, but we outgrew that space,” says Katy. “We saw the opportunity and took it, but ultimately it just became too much running both restaurants with two kids – the sacrifices weren’t worth it.”
“When we hit the slow season we were just splitting the customers between both restaurants and sacrificing time with our children,” added Domi. “We were giving half attention to each restaurant and quarter of our attention to the family – it just wasn’t working.”
While the new location has been great, it didn’t come without challenges. The two had to learn the nuances of the new site.
Instead of the larger dinner crowd in Meyers, the “Y” location sees a much larger lunch crowd. And while the Meyers location seemed to do more business in the winter, the new location sees much higher traffic in the summer time with the beach crowds.
Even though the two still feel like the move to the Crossing was a good one, it didn’t come without the same support they sought when they opened the first location.
“We were very conscious when building Verde to try and do as much locally as we could,” says Domi. “I understand how the economy in this town trickles down to all these businesses – not just here for us. We can’t survive by ourselves. Everybody around us has to be successful too.”
“We love our tourists, too,” added Katy. “Locals keep us alive and we know traffic and weekends can be rough, but it all goes back to the full circle – everybody is affected by tourism. We need them and appreciate them, too.”
Whether it’s support from locals or the visitors, one thing is quite clear at Verde, and it’s something that Domi says they try to instill in their children.
“We teach them that the important things in life are friends, family and community. Happiness comes from connection with other people and places like Tahoe make it all happen.”
Verde Mexican Rotisserie is located in the Crossing Shopping Center at 2012 Lake Tahoe Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe. Their anniversary celebration will be Dec. 8. For more information call 530-573-0700 or visit them online at verdemexicanrotisserie.com.
Community Connections is new periodic feature in which the Tribune will highlight people from all around Lake Tahoe.