More Than A Restaurant

A Mexican Restaurant located in Palisades, N.Y. Zapata has been my second home ever since I was approximately 5 years old. Ever since, Zapata has greatly influenced my way of living and my parents have instilled in me values and morals that have shaped the person I am today.

For me, Zapata is a legacy. A legacy that represents my family. A legacy that speaks volumes on the importance of dedication and hard work.

At the restaurant we have multiple fun nights but if I had to pick one of my favorite nights, it would the anniversary. The anniversary is celebrated every Feb. 6th. To celebrate, my parents bring a Mariachi band for our customers to enjoy while having their dinner and drinking a margarita. The mariachi starts at around 6 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. During the 4-hour time period, my family and I cut a cake and take family pictures. This night serves to show the immense amount of dedication and hard work my parents have put into the restaurant. Thankfully, this upcoming February, it’ll be our 17th anniversary.

If I had to pick what stresses me out the most about working at the restaurant, I’ll say nothing. In reality, the stress motivates me to want to work harder and prove to my parents that my siblings and I are able to run the business. Although the hours I work don’t compare to the hours my brother Christian works, I’m able to get a sense of what it is like to run a business. For that, I thank my parents because not many are granted that opportunity while being instilled important values that’ll help shape their own future.

The desperation and anxiety my family and I felt during COVID-19 is unexplainable. In March, when there was a mandatory shut down, we were hesitant on where this pandemic would take us business-wise. Following the shut-down we began working on a delivery and take-out basis. Aside from that, the two pillars of the business, my father and my brother, got sick. In this particular instance, I was determined to prove myself to my father. I opened and closed the restaurant while doing deliveries, taking orders and doing multiple Restaurant Depot runs for over a month. In the midst of it all, I was still a full-time online college student. I got through it and learned an immense amount during these times.

In reality, Zapata has been a learning experience.

As I sit at a bar table working on this editorial, surrounded by customers who are enjoying a chilly night out, I’m reminded at how loved my family is.

I could spend my whole entire day here taking my online classes while helping out and I can’t complain. This is what I love. This is what I enjoy doing.

I’m fortunate enough to have a home away from home that makes me feel comfortable and allows me to be a positive environment.

There are many aspects of the restaurant that I could speak volumes on but if I had to choose the most important one, I’d say that creating a relationship with customers is vital. I have learned from my father that one must be welcoming while establishing a friendship with patrons. Make a customer feel at home and they’ll come back.

My father is the pillar that holds Zapata up while continuing to instill in me values and morals.

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