Chuy’s — a favorite familia business

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Jesus “Chuy” Salazar stands in front of his Chuy’s Taqueria food truck. (Courtesy photo)

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For almost 20 years, Chuy’s Taqueria has been serving up authentic Mexican food that many would describe as ‘oh-so-delicioso.’ While Winters is lauded for its Main Street cuisine, the darling of Railroad Avenue has family flavor that’s easily made it one of the town’s most popular restaurants.

When he was 17, Jesus “Chuy” Salazar worked at a taco stand in Mexico City. There, he honed his culinary skills and took them with him when he moved to California. He worked hard in the Winters’ fields, saved up money and eventually opened El Verduzco in Dixon.

“We had other restaurants in the past. My dad started them up and sold each of them to his brothers to help bring the family over and give them jobs. So, we ended up in Winters and that’s the one he ended up keeping,” said Chuy’s daughter Gaby Salazar. “Me and my brother are pretty much the managers here in town. I also have twin sisters helping out doing schedules and helping in the front of the restaurant. There’s a total of six kids, so my dad was covered for employees for a while.”

With her older brother now teaching music in LA and older sister managing Gott’s Roadside in San Francisco, the Salazar children grew up learning and earning work ethic in their father’s restaurants. Doubtless, these years of hard work yield customer service as authentic as the food.

“It comes down to the family portion of it all. Since it’s a family business, people can see how we try to deliver our customer service in a personal way rather than corporate,” said Salazar. “We want to make sure everyone’s food is coming out fresh too because it’s our name and reputation we’re serving. And for us kids, we can’t let our dad down either.”

Chuy’s had to endure the challenges of the COVID pandemic just like every other business in Winters. However, Salazar’s father always had a knack for trying new things, and it’s this creativity that helped keep the restaurant afloat while weathering the pandemic.

“My dad has a lot of passion for cooking. When he’s not working on Monday’s, he’ll get the family together and cook us a meal. His go-to is called birria,” Salazar said explaining the innovation. “Friends and family would ask him to make it all the time, so he finally decided to add it to the menu and it’s pretty much all we sell on Tuesdays with our special. Just trying new things and creativity got us through Covid.”

Although Gaby and her family are Dixon natives, there’s plenty she enjoys about running a restaurant in Winters.

“I don’t live in Winters but working at the restaurant I’ve met a bunch of people and it’s cool getting to know them and share stories with them, and them with me,” Salazar said about their hometown connection that goes beyond Winters. “In Winters there’s a lot of people from my dad’s hometown of Jesus Maria, Jalisco, Mexico. They come and support a lot and we serve a lot of the same flavors from their hometown.”

This family flavor can be found in more than just Chuy’s Taqueria in Winters. There’s also a food truck one can follow on Instagram @chuystacotruck as well as the restaurant itself @chuystaqueria_winters.

So, if one wants to indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine while supporting a generational family business, just head down to 208 Railroad Ave. and taste a Winters favorite.

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