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Dining profile: La Hacienda in MH looking to duplicate Gilroy restaurant’s success

Restaurant is committed to quality customer service

Published in the June 8 – 21, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Lauren Newcomb

Adriana Fernandez, prepares a red enchilada sauce  in the kitchen at La Hacienda in Morgan Hill. Photo by Lauren Newcomb

Adriana Fernandez, prepares a red enchilada sauce in the kitchen at La Hacienda in Morgan Hill.
Photo by Lauren Newcomb

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and in some situations that old adage holds true. But when it comes to a satisfying dining experience, first impressions matter because they set the tone for everything to come.

La Hacienda’s commitment to quality customer service stems from manager Marilyn Jaramillo’s experience as a server, hostess and bartender, as well as her own experiences dining out. “When you go out to eat, you want great service,” she said. “Service is the first thing people see, so you should greet them with a smile.”

In Jaramillo’s opinion, one of the worst things a server can do is rush people through their meals. “Dining out is about the whole experience,” she said. “If you rush them, they won’t feel comfortable in your restaurant and they won’t have a good experience.”

La Hacienda has had a turbulent history. Beginning in Gilroy 12 years ago with four partners, and with so many opinions to take into account, deciding what direction to go was often difficult.

“The partners didn’t think we were going to get this far,” Jaramillo explained, “so they pulled out, and now there’s only one.” And now La Hacienda is thriving.

The Morgan Hill location on Condit Road opened last August, making it the second location.

With the change in venue came a change in the menu options. Although La Hacienda offers a wide variety of traditional Mexican food, it has also expanded its menu to include a page of vegetarian options.

La Hacienda’s chef, Rodrigo (he wished to keep his last name private), said his favorite dish to prepare is the spicy shrimp dish camarones a la diabla. “They’re my favorite to cook because I love cooking anything that is sautéed,” he said.

Along with this seafood entree, La Hacienda’s most popular dishes are enchiladas de mole, enchiladas verdes, and carne asada al chile negro, which Jaramillo heartily recommends.

“If you love steak, our carne asada al chile negro is delicious. It’s a juicy rib eye steak that comes with rice and beans and tortillas,” she said.

When it comes to the bar, La Hacienda is known for its tasty margaritas. “The grand margarita comes in a big fishbowl glass with a little Grand Marnier bottle on the top,” Jaramillo said. “People love it because it’s big, refreshing with its orange and lemon flavors, and because they can add the Grand Marnier to their taste.”

When La Hacienda opened in Morgan Hill in August, its owners didn’t know what to expect. “We had the name of La Hacienda from our Gilroy location, and we knew a lot of our customers had come up from Morgan Hill,” Jaramillo said.

The restaurant didn’t have a full staff at the time it first opened, so some Yelp reviews from the beginning commented that the service was a bit lackluster. La Hacienda took these reviews to heart and have been working hard to improve its customer service.

“Anybody that came here when we first opened, I would ask that you give us another try. We have improved a lot, and we’re focusing more on the client now,” Jaramillo said.

While Jaramillo focuses on providing excellent service to customers, Rodrigo works hard in the kitchen to consistently produce quality dishes. “People come to La Hacienda for the best quality of food,” he said. “Everything is made with consistency, and when people come back and order the same dish, it tastes the same.”

Rodrigo has worked at La Hacienda since it opened in 2004 in Gilroy. When he was an assistant chef, he learned everything he could because he wanted to become a chef, prepare his own recipes, and have people enjoy his food. “I love my job, and when everyone is happy I know I’ve done my job,” he said.

Rodrigo and Jaramillo agree on the reason people come back to La Hacienda time and time again. “Everything starts off in the kitchen because people come for the food,” Rodrigo said. “And it ends outside with the client and server. I feel if we keep on working as a great team, we’ll go far and be able to give our clients what they love for a very long time.”