Little George’s Mexican Restaurant is a dream come true for Jorge Moreno. It’s a dream that he says he couldn’t have achieved without his neighbor and co-owner, Marlene Manty.
“Marlene and I, we’re a good team,” Moreno told Colorado Community Media.
The pair opened the new Centennial eatery on July 16. Moreno is the driving force behind the venture and runs the day-to-day operations. Manty, who also has a full-time job in nursing, works with their accountant and waits tables three evenings a week.
It’s a 90/10 partnership that began when Manty offered to help Moreno with the permit and licensing applications needed to get his business off the ground.
“He really had all his ducks in a row, but he was having a little bit of trouble with just the administrative side of it. … It just kind of blossomed from there,” Manty said of her involvement.
Little George’s features Mexican fare like burritos, fajitas, enchiladas and margaritas. While Manty’s a fan of their sauces, especially the green chile, Moreno’s favorite is the steak burrito with rice and beans. The rice reminds him of meals in Peru, the country where he was born, educated and worked in management before moving to Colorado 17 years ago.
For 13 years prior to opening Little George’s, Moreno was employed at another Mexican restaurant in the community. There, he said, he worked his way up from a busser to a server and then a manager — gaining the experience he needed to run his own place.
He also gained a following. Many of the people he served previously are happy to discover Moreno has his own restaurant and now support him with repeat business, according to Manty.
“The customers love him. … He’s the number one reason that our restaurant is different,” Manty said. “He has a presence, and he has a rapport with the customers.”
Moreno admits that being attentive to customers and sending them home happy is what he enjoys most about owning his own restaurant.
Manty, on the other hand, enjoys the freedom they have to make the business their own. Choosing the decor, making staffing decisions, creating the menu — it’s all up to them.
The flavor of the food at Little George’s, for example, is mild by design. While working for over a decade in the area, Moreno noticed only a small percentage of folks wanted spicy dishes. He and Manty decided to dial down the heat to accommodate local preferences. Of course, for customers that like it hot, all they have to do is ask, Moreno said.
The George Margarita, one of five on the menu, uses Moreno’s own recipe. He said it has good flavor but isn’t too strong. When it comes to drinks, he makes them with care because he wants people to enjoy them enough to order more than one.
Located in the University Towne Center at 7422 S. University Blvd., Little George’s Mexican Restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and happy hour.