BUSINESS PROFILE: Peruvian’s passion for Mexican food sparks business


John Quezada, a Peruvian restaurateur in Maricopa, has always had a taste for Mexican cuisine and when he opened his restaurant Cilantro’s Mexican Cocina off of John Wayne Parkway, it gained the attention of the Maricopa community.

“I’ve been going here since they opened,” Blair Taylor said. “They make me something special because I’m a vegan, I’m not sure what he calls it but it has beans and vegetables. The food is great.”

Quezada recently sat down with to talk about his business and life.

When and why did you start your business? I started Cilantro’s two years ago in April 2012. I have a lot of passion for Mexican food even though I’m originally from Peru. But I’ve always loved Mexican food.

What is the most important aspect of business to you? I meet a lot of nice friendly customers who love to come here. It’s nice to interact with them; it’s one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Why did you start your business in Maricopa? Maricopa is a nice community and I like it. I was already living here when I started it.

What are some challenges you have faced in life? This was the challenge: It was a dream and now it’s true and I’m a small business owner.

What are some challenges you have faced in business? The challenge was to open the store. Putting it all together and making a small business was difficult.

What is your passion outside of work? I love to watch soccer; I love Barcelona. We haven’t had a lot of time since opening but we would love to make a trip down to Peru.

What is the best piece of advice you could give entrepreneurs? Got to make sure they have the time and dedication and passion for the business because it’s easy to give up.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given, and who gave it to you? I had 20 years of experience in the food industry, so I kind of knew what I was doing.

What is your favorite food? I love carne asada or a steak burrito with rice and beans; and the salsa, that’s most important.

What separates your business from the competition? I think it’s the quality and the service. We keep this place clean. It may be really small, but it really makes a difference.

Do you have any major investments or own other businesses? We want to expand, or the plan is to expand. Don’t want to say where or when, we’ll just keep that quiet for now until everything is ready.