by Theodore Tollefson Earlier this year, Me & Julio on the south end of Hastings celebrated its 10th anniversary. The restaurant is also under new ownership: Eclectic Culinary Concepts, which is …
by Theodore Tollefson
Earlier this year, Me & Julio on the south end of Hastings celebrated its 10th anniversary. The restaurant is also under new ownership: Eclectic Culinary Concepts, which is based in Edina and part of the Restaurants and Other Eating Places Industry group.
Eclectic Culinary Concepts own many restaurants throughout the Twin Cities area, the most popular of which is Lucky 13’s Pub, which has seven locations: Five in the Twin Cities and two in North Dakota. Me & Julio’s has a sister location in Fitchburg, Wis., a suburb of Madison, but here in Hastings they found a way to have its own unique style.
“We’re always trying to make sure that what we have is fresh, good quality food and a good deal by trying to do a few things to stay aggressively competitive,” said Travis Waltez, general manager of Me & Julio’s. “The new happy hour and everything, we’re offering some really good deals on 10 years of margaritas, but I think more than anything, just making sure that what we do is the best that we can do.”
One of the longest serving members of the Me & Julio’s crew is head chef Pablo Cabral. Cabral, as described by Waltez, is a passionate cook who is always putting forth the strongest effort possible when making food for any customer that walks into Me & Julio’s.
“Our head chef Pablo in the kitchen is very committed to always ensuring that we’ve got the freshest food cooked to order, everything is done from scratch, nothing is boil in a bag or no chef microwave back there working at all. Everything is cooked to order from scratch by hand. It’s a very hard-working kitchen. Pablo knows authentic Mexican food as well as anyone,” said Waltez.
Another member of the Me & Julio’s crew who contributes to the unique atmosphere is Nik Gerlinger, the bar program manager. Gerlinger has helped to create the particular happy hour offers, as well as the long list of specialty margaritas.
“Nik handles our bar program and does a really good job offering freshly made margaritas. A lot of places do a lot of cookie cutter, store bought mix and whatever. We’re doing fresh lime juice and high quality to keep doing things the way they should be done,” said Waltez.
Like many restaurants, Me & Julio’s has seen its struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team at Me & Julio’s has worked extensively to be on top of sanitation protocols and providing guests with the safest, healthiest experience possible. Another priority is ensuring that staff are well taken care of, to ensure there are always enough people there to serve guests every day.
Waltez shared what Me & Julio’s has been and continues to do to ensure the best possible and safest dining experience for all their guests.
“COVID is something we’ve been dancing around for the longest time and we’re still dancing around. So, we’re just doing the best to make sure that we’re sanitizing everything, doing our best to keep people safe and offer hand sanitizer. We are encouraging our unvaccinated staff to wear the mask, and it’s kind of up to them.
We’re just making sure that everything is transparent and visible for the guests that are here, that we’re keeping hand sanitizer stations full, installing them at our doors in our outdoor patio, and just that people are following common sense safety protocols,” said Waltez.
Me & Julio’s has been a staple in the Hastings restaurant scene for a decade and hopes to continue doing so under new ownership.