WAHOO – Jesus Zaragoza is not your typical high school senior.
Working in the restaurant business since he was 11, he started as a bus boy at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant in Wahoo.
Now 18 years old, the Wahoo High School student is the co-owner of Chuy’s Restaurant in Fremont with his father.
In his last year at Wahoo High School, Zaragoza finds time to do his homework before getting on the highway and heading to the restaurant after school. He heads back to Wahoo around 9:30 p.m.
“I love working in the restaurant business,” he said. “I also love being a manager, the people aspect of it.”
Working hard makes Zaragoza’s life more fulfilling.
“It’s all about the mindset and about making time to do what a person loves most in life,” he said.
Zaragoza was a standout on the gridiron for Wahoo and was named all-district and all-area while handling the kickoff and placekicking duties for the undefeated state champion football team last season. He kicked a 24-yard field goal in the Warriors’ 38-0 state championship victory over the Pierce Bluejays.
The teenager juggled sports, school and the restaurant at the same time.
“I love the restaurant and I love football, too, so I was able to do both at the same time,” he said.
After graduation Zaragoza said he hopes to attend a community college and get a degree in business management. Other than that, he’s ready to jump all in to his new business.
The teenager remembers when he started out a bus boy in Wahoo.
“I was busing tables and taking chips,” he said. “A customer tipped me $100. He said he knew one day I would be very successful in life and wished me luck. I wish I could thank him for his encouragement today because it really inspired me.”
Zaragoza said the new restaurant has an authenticity of certain spices and tastes that he believes will set them apart from others.
“There are a lot of Mexican restaurants in town but we have stuff you don’t usually see outside of certain family recipes,” he said. “We serve more traditional food.”
The seasoning can make or break the restaurant, according to Zaragoza.
“It’s all about the seasoning,” he said. “If you have good seasoning you’ll be successful. Our recipes are handed down from many generations.”
Zaragoza’s father, Jesus Sr., said the family has been involved in the restaurant business for as long as he can remember.
“My cousin invited me to Wahoo and I came all the way from Tennessee to see the location and the rest is history,” he said.
Customers in both communities have made the family feel welcome, according to Zaragoza’s father.
“In Wahoo and Fremont people have been real nice and supportive,” he said. “We hope to have everyone come by and see the new restaurant and have a margarita.”
Both father and son agree that owning a restaurant involves more than cooking and serving food.
“We love serving people. We do everything as if it was for one of our own family, in our restaurant the customers are like family,” Zaragoza’s father said.