Horatio Castillo and Maria Chavez were born and raised in the rural state of Michoacán, Mexico. Both came from traditional families that valued hard work and authentic food. Independently, they migrated to southern California as young adults seeking a better life. After a few years in the hustling environment of Orange County, Horatio and his uncle took an eighteen-hour bus ride to Caldwell, Idaho, in search of employment opportunities in 1994.
“I still remember getting off the bus the morning we arrived, looking around and thinking, wow, this is it,” recalled Horatio. “The open space, beautiful mountains and rural lifestyle was just what I was hoping for.”
It didn’t take long for Maria and her two daughters to join Horatio in Idaho. Both Horatio and Maria found employment and began to save money. “Our wages were not high, but we settled in and made ends meet,” said Maria.
Horatio worked at a number of different jobs while Maria started working at a local Mexican restaurant. There, she learned about the food service industry and the local clientele.
In 2005, Horatio and Maria had saved enough money to open Janitzio Restaurant in Caldwell. “Because our money was limited, we worked tirelessly to remodel and open our original location in a very small, modest building,” said Horatio.
It wasn’t difficult for Maria to come up with a menu since she often prepares traditional recipes that have been passed down from her mother and grandmother.
“I like to prepare food that is healthy and in the style found on Janitzio Island in Lake Patzcuaro,” stated Maria. “This is very near where I grew up and it makes me happy to share this food with our customers.”
It didn’t take long for Janitzio to develop a loyal following as many of their patrons would stop by for lunch. And although Horatio continued to work a second job, the restaurant was able to be modestly profitable.
Earlier this year, knowing that their current lease was not going to be renewed, Horatio started looking for a new location for Janitzio. It didn’t take long for him to find a potential site across the street from their current location, so Horatio visited his banker in hopes of getting a loan for the restaurant.
“Although our business is profitable, our banker recommended we get additional business training from Micro Enterprise and Technical Assistance Counselor Carlos Duncan,” said Horatio. “Carlos was so helpful in guiding us to the many resources to assist our business. He introduced us to Sylvia Morrow of Certified Development Company Capital Matrix who helped us get an SBA 504 loan.”
Once again, Horatio and Maria went to work remodeling the new location to meet their individual needs. After several months of long hours, Janitzio opened in April of this year.
“We are a small, family-owned and operated business,” said Horatio. “With the help of the SBA loan, we are confident we will be able to continue to offer a clean, friendly restaurant where people can come and eat authentic Mexican food.”