Mexican restaurant opens, owner expects business to thrive

Geneseo’ s new Mexican restaurant, Rancho Viejo, opened on Feb. 9. The restaurant is located where the town’s Y Bar and Grill and the Sea Cow Grill used to be before closing down. Store owner José Leon Ramirez has additional restaurants located in nearby towns. (Annalee Bainnson/Assoc. Photo Editor)

Rancho Viejo, Geneseo’s newest Mexican restaurant, opened its doors on Feb. 9. Restaurant owner José Leon Ramirez said he feels confident that the restaurant will thrive despite problems past businesses have had in the same location.

Rancho Viejo is located on 4262 Lakeville Rd., which has been home to both the Y Bar and Grill and the Sea Cow Grill in the last 12 months. While Ramirez invested a total of $60,000 into developing this restaurant in Geneseo, he was confident that the business would succeed and currently does not have a timeline to break even.

Ramirez also believes that he can overcome potential challenges due to the location of his restaurant, as it is located farther away from the college campus than other food choices. 

“If the people want to eat something, if it’s good, they’ll go wherever,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez owns four other restaurants with similar food options in Batavia, Clarence and Warsaw, according to Rancho Viejo Manager Misael Ribas. While Ramirez has experienced success with these businesses, he also had two restaurants fail, which were originally located in Mount Morris and Le Roy.

“Mount Morris is very small and Le Roy is the same way,” Ramirez said. “Instead of staying in Le Roy, people go someplace else to do their shopping.”

Although those restaurants have failed, Ramirez added that they have yielded some loyal customers. While the restaurant is still in its infancy, the business is relying on word of mouth and reputation of Ramirez’s other restaurants to attract customers. 

Ribas, who has worked for Ramirez in his other restaurants for two years, echoed Ramirez’s sentiments. 

“Most of the customers we’ve had in the past few days know we have restaurants in other towns, so they love it,” Ribas said.

Ramirez is relying on word of mouth to attract customers because he prefers to give his businesses time to work out their kinks before they get flooded with people, referring to this process as a “soft opening.”

“A lot of people don’t do that and they have thousands of people at once, and if you don’t take care of them, they won’t come back,” Ramirez said.

Ribas described Rancho Viejo as a family restaurant that is for everybody. The menu includes authentic Mexican food and a variety of American food options such as chicken fingers and hamburgers, according to Ribas. The restaurant also offers vegetarian options.

“I think most people that come here enjoy it, you know? Sometimes you have good business and sometimes it goes down,” Ribas said.

Ramirez, respectfully, doesn’t see Bar-Eat-O as competition to his new restaurant.

“They have their stuff and I have my stuff, but it’s completely different. This is more of a sit down place and they specialize in burritos, so it’s completely different,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez hopes to attract students in a variety of different ways, including having a students’ day and offering specials on tacos and on beer—once the restaurant’s liquor license is approved.

“Everybody’s different. We specialize in Mexican food and Geneseo needs Mexican food,” Ramirez said.