El Asadero adds second restaurant in Richland

El Asadero — which serves up Mexican cuisine with a focus on homemade freshness — opened a new restaurant on 127 Gage Blvd. in Richland.

The restaurant is owned and operated by father and son duo Rafael Arriaga Sr. and Rafael Arriaga Jr.

Their first restaurant opened in 2004 on Fourth Avenue in Pasco, where El Nuevo Amanecer is now. In 2007, they moved to 2318 Court St.

Arriaga Sr. was a chef in Mexico who always dreamed of having his own kitchen. He and his sister — who is no longer involved in the business — partnered up to start El Asadero.

“He started with nothing and built the restaurant from the ground up, from a small location to where it is now,” Arriaga Jr. said.

He was only 12 and his younger brother 4 when his dad opened the restaurant. He said he “literally grew up inside the restaurant,” watching his dad toil away at the business.

It wasn’t always fun as a boy, he admitted, but now he can appreciate the sacrifices his father made, he said.
“It was my second home. I literally grew up in the restaurant. I see all the sacrifices at the end and it’s worth it,” Arriaga Jr said. “Ever since I was 23, I knew I wanted to be a part of the business and help it grow. If they did it with all the obstacles they had, why can’t I?

“It was hard for him. There were days when they didn’t know how they would make rent. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel those first five years.”

But they sensed they had gotten to a point last year where they were ready to expand — and needed room to grow.
“We’ve had that place at max capacity. We outgrew it,” Arriaga Jr said. “A lot of our customers from Pasco live in this area, so that has been good.”

And when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped on it.

The building used to be home to Lepice Spice Kitchen, a French restaurant that closed in 2016.

“We didn’t even plan to be at this location. We looked at the right building at the right time; it’s a great opportunity for growth,” Arriaga Jr. said. “We’ve been blessed to have clients from Pasco know where we are so it hasn’t been bad. We’ve had a great start in this location. Word is getting out. Every person who has come in here has brought in other family members afterwards.”

Now Arriaga Jr. is at the helm of the busness and helping the second location grow. It opened in February.
Arriaga Jr. said what makes the restaurant unique is its focus on fresh ingredients — all produce and meat are bought daily before 8 a.m. They also make homemade tortillas.

“The only thing we freeze is the ice cream,” Arriaga Jr. said.

He used to do all the sourcing himself, but now that his younger brother, Carlos Arriaga, is 18, he is filling his older brother’s shoes.

“He was trained by our father to know what to look for in produce and what prices to look for,” Arriaga Jr. said.
The special attention makes their customer favorites — barbacoa, caldo de res, pollo asado, tacos, and tortas — taste that much better, he said.

He already has his eyes set on more growth — adding another restaurant in Richland — to complete the trifecta and maybe one day franchising the restaurant.

“I think it’s possible to take the franchise to the next level,” he said. “Franchises are great but they could be better. I don’t like the idea of making a new franchisee purchase stuff from their approved vendors. I want to fully train staff of a new franchise to teach them how to purchase how we purchase, to keep the freshness how we keep the freshness. That’s what makes every location that much better, but it’s same menu.”

“I’ve always been open to improving,” he said.

The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

El Asadero serves beer and wine and will soon get a liquor license to serve other alcohol. They also serve breakfast until noon every day.

El Asadero: 127 Gage Blvd., Richland; 509-554-7313; Facebook.

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