In The Neighborhood: Los Gringos Locos
Here at CTD, we’re introducing four different blog series that we hope will share insights into the world of design, introduce our favorite resources and local businesses and help prepare you for the journey of transforming your home and designing its potential … all while giving you a glimpse into our world, good days, bad days, and everything in between!
This week is the first installation of our “In the Neighborhood” series. Our reporter Sareen Armenian has been seeking businesses who inspire us with their entrepreneurial spirit, resolve, and creativity.
Located in Plaza de La Cañada Shopping Center, the famous Los Gringos Locos is a landmark restaurant in La Cañada. The colorful and lively eatery has been a place for gatherings and fiestas for the past 24 years! Like most restaurants, Los Gringos has been affected by the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 pandemic. Unfazed, the proud owner of this restaurant, Bent Hansen, has tried his hardest to keep his restaurant a lively and enjoyable place for the community to visit. For this segment of the “In the neighborhood” blog, I sat down with Mr. Hansen to talk about his experiences and challenges during these trying times.
“The first few months of the virus were like the wild west”, said Mr. Hanson. The information he was receiving was conflicting, and he felt like he was not receiving the support he needed as a small business owner. However, the uncertainty of the situation did not phase him. Mr. Hansen had to reinvent his business model, determined to figure out a new way of running his restaurant of 24 years. He thought of creative marketing tools such as selling margaritas to-go, pancake kits on Saturday mornings, and margarita smelling hand sanitizer (my personal favorite).
All of Mr. Hansen’s ideas were very well thought out and creative, but the one that impressed me the most was his virtual guacamole cart.
The guacamole cart is a staple of Los Gringos Locos, and the majority of customers who come to the restaurant seek the delicious tableside treat. Mr. Hansen needed to find a way to keep the tradition alive. He came up with the concept of a virtual tableside guacamole cart where you can enjoy guacamole and still remain Covid-safe. Customers order the guacamole with their waitstaff, and a cart with a monitor, microphone, and speaker is rolled to the table where customers can directly connect with the guacamole-making team. Customers can watch and communicate with the workers preparing the guacamole, customizing to their choosing. I tried the guacamole with chips, and I now understand why people come from all over for a taste.
The last bit of innovation Mr. Hansen implemented was a tented area in the parking lot that would allow social distancing for dine-in customers. This well-designed portion of the restaurant is very festive and colorful, and transports you from a parking lot to a beautiful outdoor patio with wonderful ambiance. The highlight of this space are the colorful dividers between the seating areas, which capture the essence of the indoor portion of the restaurant that is no longer accessible to the public.
After visiting Los Gringos Locos, I was thoroughly impressed by the noticeable yet natural-feeling changes the restaurant had made in order to become Covid-compliant. As Mr. Hansen said in our interview, “Everyone who moves here (La Cañada) believes in the town, and wants to make it better”. Los Gringos needs your support and patronage. The restaurant has adapted to the times, without losing its charm or the unique flavors that have made it a landmark destination.