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Bienvenidos, Rancho Grande

By Staff | Sep 12, 2014

Tim Chapman/PCT A group from Kansas is opening a Mexican restaurant in the former Cornerstone Cafe at the corner of U.S. 2 and N.D. 3 in Rugby. Pictured from left to right are wife and husband, Bella Rizo and David Serrato, and friend Aaron Bingham.

Inside the former Cornerstone Cafe, four Rugby newcomers bustled around Tuesday with cleaning supplies and loads of kitchen equipment. Outside, an unseasonably cool day prefaced the looming winter for a group unaccustomed to North Dakota’s unpredictable weather.

For Chicago native and Mexican-American David Serrato the new territory is worth the risk. Serrato, his wife Bella Rizo and friend Aaron Bingham are opening Rancho Grande, an authentic Mexican restaurant.

Set to open about one month from now, Rancho Grande will feature classic Mexican cuisine including enchiladas, fajitas, tamales and quesadillas. Serrato, who has about 20 years of restaurant experience, also plans to feature American classics including burgers, steaks and sandwiches.

“I like it here and I thought it would be a good place,” Serrato said. “Everything is beautiful around here.”

Serrato’s uncle owns Mexican restaurants in northwest Kansas. Serrato heard about the increasing employment opportunties in North Dakota and decided to start his own operation. He contacted James Buckmeier, owner of Anytime Fitness and the cafe property, and arrived in Rugby late last week.

“James gave me a chance and opportunity,” Serrato said. “We’re here to serve people. That’s what we like to do. We’re hard workers.”

Signature dishes will include molcajete setups – Mexico’s version of mortar and pestle.

The restaurant will employ six to eight people once the trio is finished cleaning, painting and decorating. Serrato’s father, also David, is helping for a few weeks before returning to his home in California.

The group will be busy in coming weeks, but is eager to join the community. As colder air moves in, area residents may be busier sampling the warm, rich flavors of Mexico.

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