SCOTTSDALE — As most restaurant owners were beginning to navigate how to transition their operations to focus on carry-out and delivery rather than dine-in, the owner of Chispa's was preparing to open the doors to her concept for the first time.
Located in the old Hopi Liquor Mart building on Thomas Road near Hayden Road in Scottsdale, Chispa's is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant and drive-thru with customized tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas.
"Healthy food, fast, on the run. Ya know? That’s what its about," said owner Czarina Valenzuela during a recent Zoom interview with ABC15. She said she came up with the idea as way for families to grab a quick bite to eat while driving the kids from school to sports or between games that was an alternative to traditional fast food.
"We started with tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and we do it kind of where you pick your toppings," she said. "Pollo Asado, Carne Asada. We have pastor, shrimp and fish, and we do a veggie. And you get to pick your toppings," she said.
"Everything is made fresh," she said.
Slowly, they plan on rolling out additional items on their menu. They've already added a Sonora hot dog and elote cups, and planning on adding desserts soon. View the menu.
Valenzuela, who grew up in the restaurant business -- her family is part of Los Olivos Mexican Patio, a Mexican restaurant that has been part of Scottsdale for 70 years -- said while some may see it as odd to open during a pandemic, she actually considered it to be the "perfect time."
"I figured if we were going to [open], we would be as busy as we could possible handle. I thought people weren’t really out, restaurants were closing, and being drive-thru, we were that other option for food," she said, noting that she did not want to take anything away from restaurants once their dining rooms reopened.
She said eventually they'll open their dining room, which has a few tables and chairs, install some TVs, and hope to eventually have a patio where people can eat outside. But for now, she and her team are taking it one day at a time.
As for the name Chispa's, it means "spark" in Spanish, and refers to her mother's nickname.
"It’s just funny because 95% of the people who know her, only know her by "Chispa's.. She got this nickname when she was 5 years old by my grandfather. It means "spark" We just thought it was the perfect name for our place. We wanted, ya know, we wanted this to be fun and happy and that’s all the things she is. It just seemed to fit perfectly," she said.
IF YOU GO:
8046 E Thomas Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
We're Open, Arizona: We know this is a tough time for a lot of people in our community, including local restaurants and businesses. As local spots continue to serve takeout, look for ways to safely do business, and give back to our community, we want to share their stories. Visit abc15.com/open or email us at OpenInAZ@abc15.com.