Local restaurant La Casa Lopez maintains friendly atmosphere
Mitch Lopez’s favorite memory of La Casa Lopez involved a dinner rush and an argument.
“There was my brother, my two sisters, my mom and dad, one weekend after not working all of us together for years … and we got into a little argument and we just started laughing in the middle of it, because we noticed how dumb the argument was and how we miss working together,” Lopez said. “It was probably one of the best weekends I’ve ever had here.”
Lopez, who currently works as the general manager for La Casa Lopez, said the restaurant has always had a lot of involvement from the Lopez family.
“What most people don’t know is that almost every meal is being prepared by a Lopez or being served by a Lopez at one point in time during the day,” he said.
Lopez said his family opened the restaurant in Moscow 12 years ago and some of the family recipes were his grandmother’s, while others were made up by members of the current Lopez family.
He said Casa Lopez is unique because of its combination of being a Mexican restaurant run by a family.
Before opening the restaurant, the Lopez family owned another restaurant in Moscow, which ran from 1994 to 2002.
Lopez said he and his siblings grew up with his family in the restaurant business.
“It was very hectic, because we didn’t get to see our family very much since they worked nights, but after a while you just become involved in the business and it becomes addictive,” he said. “It becomes addictive to create new dishes, to create new drinks, to try to meet the goals that you have on a year base, but mainly it’s been a lot of fun.”
One of the challenges for the business has been the increasing volume of customers as Moscow and Pullman have grown in population, Lopez said.
Since opening the business, the restaurant’s staff has grown from about 25 employees to more than 50 to accommodate for the increasing amounts of business rushes.
Lopez said working with the staff is his favorite part about his involvement with the restaurant.
“I have a lot of fun with our staff,” he said. “Every night we work hard together, so we get to know each other. They say that, usually, your best friends are your coworkers because you’re with them all day long, and that’s probably the best part of the business, and the worst part is when they all graduate. There’s always been a motto that we’ve always met here. It’s always been ‘We train together, we go to war together and at the end of the night, we have a beer together,’ or a soda, if you’re under 21.”
Lopez said his immediate family all worked in the restaurant at one point or another, and he and his siblings have all had experience working in every job within Casa Lopez.
“Before you can boss somebody around, you should always be able to help them do their job,” he said. “So we were always trained to learn everybody’s job before we told somebody what to do, because you’re not telling somebody what to do, you’re helping them to do it to make sure that you can survive the day, basically.”
Daphne Jackson can be reached at email@example.com