Mesa Venezuelan restaurant thriving after opening during the heart of the pandemic

Que Chevere
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 26, 2021

MESA, AZ — At a time when tens of thousands of restaurants were closing their doors for good and millions of restaurant employees finding themselves in the unemployment line, Orvid and Maria Fernanda Cutler decided to take a big risk. They opened the doors to Que Chevere in June 2020, when Arizona was in the middle of a 'summer surge' during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orvid Cutler admits, he was terrified, but his faith and passion for his wife's cooking had him willing to take the risk.

"I was willing to risk all my savings, everything we had you know, we put into this," said Cutler.

The couple took their experience operating a successful food truck right into their brick-and-mortar place and started off strong with only three employees and a take-out only business model.

"It was just me, my wife, and another person. We were working 16-hour days. It was hard," said Cutler.

Que Chevere brings a taste of diversity along downtown Mesa's restaurant corridor. The Cutler's pride themselves on the authenticity they bring to the table.

"My mom makes tortillas everyday still. She is 82 years old and one of the best things in the morning you can smell is her tortillas. I know it's different, but I never thought I would ever taste anything as good as my mom's cooking until I saw my wife cook for me and it's phenomenal. I believed in it so much I was willing to risk all my savings, everything we had you know, we've put into this," said Cutler.

Maria Fernanda, who moved to the U.S. from Venezuela when she was 17 said she used all the recipes handed down to her by her mother. Both women were adamant they use authentic ingredients.

"We couldn't find a lot of the ingredients and she would not make the food unless it was the exact ingredients that she used," said Cutler.

It took them a while to track down suppliers for the cheese and corn flour used to make their Arepas, Cachapas, and Empanadas.

"Everything is prepared the way she would prepare it back in Venezuela," added Cutler.

He credited the city of Mesa, Downtown Mesa Association, their food truck followers, and surrounding neighborhood residents for helping them stay afloat in this uncertain time.

"It is all hard work, and I do feel blessed," said Cutler.

Que Chevere is located at 142 W. Main Street in Mesa. They have socially distanced tables and outdoor seating available for outdoor dining, along with takeout available at this time.