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No Borders: Senorita Bonitas Owner Built His Dream in Solon

From Guadalajara to Solon, good business knows no borders

Ricardo Leon started where many restaurateurs do: washing dishes and busing tables.

He eventually moved into the kitchen, but that wasn't his biggest move by far.

Leon, now owner of in Solon, grew up in far away Guadalajara, Mexico, the son of restaurateur parents. He took a big leap by moving to Wilmington, N.C., where he cut his teeth in the restaurant business.

Wilmington was a turning point in his life, Leon says. There he learned the importance of teamwork -- how a good team in the kitchen can mesh with a good team in the front of the house.

But the coastal weather could not keep the Leons away from a perfect opportunity here in Solon. A chance to be part-owner in a new business changed Leon’s life again. Thanks to lots of hard work, sound business practices and support from the community, the business grew. Leon is now the owner of Senorita Bonita on Enterprise Parkway.

The philosophy behind Senorita’s is elegant in its simplicity.

“Good service, good food, friendly atmosphere, and lots of teamwork,” Leon says.

These are the keys to his success; but he doesn’t stop there.

The design inside is bright and happy. Eclectic portraits hang on the walls, hand-carved statues stand half-hidden on shelves, gems embedded in the bar top glisten.

“We have one of the largest tequila bars in the area, over 50 selections” Leon says. Indeed, the beautiful array of tequila bottles and margarita glasses all add to the ambiance.

People don’t come just to experience the rare tequilas. There is a sort-of conference area that business groups often use, and a bar full of TVs. Baseball, football and basket ball are joined by soccer and car racing. This is not just a sports bar, Leon says.

“People come here to practice speaking Spanish also,” he says. “We have a great mix of people.”

The overall atmosphere in Solon is what made the city an ideal place for the restaurant, Leon saus. The business community is thriving, it’s a safe place to live and work and the schools are fantastic. His daughter Emily attends Solon schools and will be joined by her twin brothers in a few years.

There is rarely a down moment for the Leons. With the restaurant's new patio established, Leon hopes to add more seafood to the menu, and some new margarita flavors.

If there is a special ingredient to the success behind Senorita Bonita’s, it is “Donde todos trabajamos en equipo” – everybody works together as a team.

That's a good business practice anywhere in the world.

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