Family-run Mexican restaurant opens in Oak Harbor

A new Mexican restaurant opened Wednesday in what used to be the Donut Master shop near the Safeway gas station in Oak Harbor.

Taqueria El Kiosko is Lucia Pelayo Arciniega’s third restaurant. She established herself in Tukwila with a taco truck and expanded into the first Taqueria El Kiosko in Renton before coming to Oak Harbor.

She said her Wednesday opening was very busy and a success. “I feel so good because of the customers,” Pelayo said.

“I am very, very happy.”

The menu at El Kiosko has more than 50 items: everything from carne asada and carnitas to tacos and burritos.

The Oak Harbor location is the first time El Kiosko has a drive-through, which she said is nice, but the restaurant is still adjusting to the speed required to fulfill some drive-through orders.

“Because it’s not fast food where we have everything ready, we have to prepare some food,” Pelayo said. Her restaurant has to cook items like the carne asada, which can delay orders, unlike simpler options such as tacos.

The Oak Harbor location was not the first time she had to adapt to a new food delivery system.

Pelayo said her taco truck was much more laid back, and when she opened the restaurant in Renton she had to adjust to the new speed required with that location.

“The taco truck is ‘bye have a nice day, here’s your food,’” Pelay said. “Here, we have to talk.”

But she said she loved speaking with her customers.

Her desire to open a restaurant was born out of cooking with her mom in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico when she was a little girl. Pelayo was working as a bookkeeper 32 years ago for a travel agency. She intended to spend only a year in the United States to learn English.

She stayed with her brothers in California, going to school, learning English and working night shifts at a tortas factory. She got married to David, who works as a cook in the restaurants.

After 14 years in California, she and David moved to Arizona, where her family resides, before moving to Washington.

She loved living in California because it was her first state and Arizona because it’s where most of her family is, but she said Washington is a very beautiful state. “Now I go back to Arizona and it’s too hot,” she said.

Currently the sign outside still displays the Donut Master logo but Pelayo said in about a month she should have enough money to change the sign to the logo of Taqueria El Kiosko, which features three mariachi players in a gazebo. In Mexico a “kiosko” is a gazebo in the center of a town plaza where a mariachi band plays.

Pelayo will also look to hire new people.

“Somebody else might think we’re just looking for Hispanic people because they know the food,” she said, “but everybody learns, so it doesn’t matter.”

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