Marshalltown is known for its vibrant and diverse range of Mexican dishes, and Carlos Flores and Janet Merlos are adding another option with their new restaurant, El Cantarito Bar & Grill. The restaurant first opened on December 27 and Flores and Merlos are working hard to make the first week go off without a hitch.
Opening his own restaurant has been a long-time dream for Flores, and he has worked hard to achieve the goal. Flores has worked in the industry for six years as a waiter, learning the different sides of the business and familiarizing herself with all the tools needed to run a successful restaurant. Besides learning the ropes, Flores had to take on other jobs in order to save enough money to make her dream come true.
After years of hard work, Flores is the proud owner of a large building perfect for a budding restaurant. The restaurant at 903 Lincoln Way, the former home of Plaza Mexico, has a bar and plenty of tables to sit and enjoy a meal. Flores and Merlos, his wife, were sure their attention to detail and excellent customer service would set them apart.
“We are very nice. I know how to treat guests and I am very passionate, ”said Flores. “This has been my dream for a long time, so I want to offer something different with great food and good service.”
Flores said the biggest difference he noticed between working in a restaurant and owning was the workload, as there are a lot of additional responsibilities that now fall on him.
“I have to make sure that everyone who came here left happy. I have to teach (my waiters) like I did (when I was a waiter), ”said Flores.
Flores remembers the high standard he was held to as a waiter, and he wants to make sure his staff maintain the same standard of work and service. Above all, he wants to make sure that the guests who eat at El Cantarito are happy.
This family business is just getting started, but its long-term goal is to open more locations in other regions. Right now they are focused on setting up the Marshalltown location to be successful. They hope for five star reviews on every aspect of their restaurant, from the food to the service. Because they haven’t been open for a long time, it hasn’t been too crowded, but Flores and Merlos are doing their best to get the word out to the community.
“Some people, they don’t know it yet, but we’re working on it.” said Flores. “The people who have come here over the past few days have been very happy, without any complaints and without great reviews.”
The couple promoted El Cantarito Bar & Grill on the company’s Facebook page and received several five-star reviews. Merlos said the tacos were already a successful menu item for just three days they were open.
El Cantarito is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or