La Fiesta opened a new, fast food restaurant in Troy last month called “La Fiesta Express.” Just down the road from their original Troy location, the Express took over the old East of Chicago building on Main Street. They officially opened the brightly painted building on October 13 with a limited menu, a drive-thru, and service that rivals the efficiency of larger fast food chains.
Luis Arturo Fuentes is a resident of Troy and the visionary behind La Fiesta. He had the idea for the La Fiesta Express 7 years ago. “We just needed a good location,” Fuentes said. The Troy restaurant that has become a mainstay in the community since 2001 began in Springfield, Illinois where the first La Fiesta continues to do business. Other locations include Maumee, Ohio and the recent opening of a restaurant in Clayton, Ohio back in December of 2015.
According to Fuentes, there are a couple of differences people can expect to see between the Express and the primary locations of La Fiesta. The menu will only include a few items that have been popular on the extensive list of options at the main restaurant. In keeping with models like Hothead Burrito and Chipotle, the Express will have a build-your-own burrito using fresh ingredients from the same distributors that supply La Fiesta. The Express will also have a smaller dining space and quicker service. Fuentes says that the quality of service will be the same as what patrons have come to appreciate at the main locations.
Hundreds of patrons visit the Main Street La Fiesta every week for authentic Mexican food and an energetic atmosphere. Guests receive a warm welcome and will often hear employees and managers singing in the kitchen or in the dining room as they serve. Their optimism is an intrinsic aspect of the restaurant’s culture that Fuentes encourages. “I want people to feel hopeful and happy when they come to La Fiesta,” Fuentes said. “We struggled when I first took over the restaurant and it’s taken a lot of hard work and faith to build but we are blessed. I wouldn’t be able to do this without such a great team.”
Fuentes vision for the La Fiesta chain came out of his heritage prior to his becoming a U.S. citizen in 2008. Having grown up in Santa Ana, Mexico with his grandparents Pedro and Genevieve Fuentes, he realized the importance of food and serving in the life of his family and culture. “You have to be able to share what you have,” Fuentes said.
“We didn’t have a lot growing up; there were always beans on the table and tortillas but a lot of people had less.” Fuentes sees the restaurant business as a way to provide for needs and to bring people together. “In Troy, when we go downtown for shows and events, it’s like Mexico; everyone is together,” Fuentes said. “And I love it about the culture here that people pray before their meals. I believe it is good that we should be thankful to God for what we have.”
With the new Express already bringing in business, Fuentes is dreaming of what could happen next. He is, even now, open to the possibility of other locations of La Fiesta Express. With future expansion on the table, Fuentes sees Troy as “his kitchen” and continues to cook up a party for the community every week at La Fiesta.
(above and below) Arturo Fuentes at the new La Fiesta Express