An Oregon couple has opened a Mexican restaurant that serves homemade cheese and chorizo in the former Flandreau Café location on Wind Street.
Robert and Rosie Manzo opened Don Manzo’s last week, cooking up tacos, enchiladas and other fare as they operate their first restaurant. While he does much of the cooking, including making homemade tamale’s, some of the recipes also are his wife’s. “Don” means a respected form of “Mr.” in Spanish.
For the couple, the chance to start their own business is a dream come true. The building’s owner, who also owns a restaurant called Los Paisanos in Sioux Falls, has given them a few months of rent free to allow them to get started.
“This is a blessing, and we’re so happy to have it,” Rosie Manzo said. “We came looking for a fresh start and opportunity. This is God’s plan because we’ve got it here.”
The couple was down on their luck after the pandemic caused Robert Manzo’s cheese making to close because they couldn’t get a source for milk, Rosie Manzo said. They decided to drive across country to Louisiana but stopped in Sioux Falls in March because they were out of gas and nearly out of money. They liked the community so much that they decided to get jobs and stay, spending their last $800 on temporary rent.
The property owner of the restaurant tasted Robert Manzo’s cooking and said he needed to open a restaurant, they said.
Don Manzo is the third Mexican restaurant in town, joining Fajita’s Bar and Grill next door and El Rinconsito on Second Avenue. It operates in a space most recently used as a Mexican restaurant that went out of business.
He is back at making his own queso fresco and chorizo to serve customers.
The Manzos say there is room for everyone to be in business in town. They stand behind his cooking and the homemade sauces that are part of their authentic food.
“We hope that everyone can make it,” Rosie Manzo said. “We offer a different flavor and a different atmosphere.”
Robert Manzo learned to cook from his grandmother, who spent all day working to feed their family over a wood fire in Mexico when he was a boy. “We had a choice, go to school or go to work,” he said. “I didn’t like either. I stayed home with my grandma.”
Now age 40, he has seen his share of difficulties and is thankful for the chance at running his own business. “This is our dream,” he said.
The restaurant’s menu includes tacos, tortas, burritos, enchiladas, Mexican sweet bread with sugar on top and fresh squeezed orange and carrot juice for breakfast and the homemade steamed tamales for the dinner menu. Meat choices for the menu items include pork, chicken, beef and chorizo.
The restaurant will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will be closed Wednesdays and Sundays for now. The couple will consider a later Sunday opening if they see the need.
The Manzos have eight children, ages 8 to 27. While three are grown adults, the others are temporarily staying in Oregon.
The couple wants their Flandreau restaurant to be a place for families and aren’t selling alcohol. Instead, they make a snow cone-style drink called a Lucas Locos, or crazy snow cone that includes several kinds of Mexican candy and soda. Robert Manzo also has a signature watermelon treat, covered in a chili glaze, served on a stick.
Amidst all the cooking, the smiles are free and reflect the Manzos happiness with their new venture in a new community.
“It feels like home. It feels like I should have been here my whole life,” Rosie Manzo said.