It’s not everyday a former banquet hall turns into a Mexican restaurant. But that’s exactly the story of Casa Don Manuel in Wayne. The new eatery takes the place of the Paris Inn after a $150,000 renovation of the two-story building. Now, the 17,600-square foot spot serves “homestyle” Mexican meals that are perfect for the whole family.
Edelweiss Avalos co-owns Casa Don Manuel with her husband, Jesus Sanchez. Talking about the renovations, she says changing the floors and painting both the interior and exterior are just the start. “We essentially renovated every room,” she says. “We still have to add some finishing touches to truly tie in the place, but it’s far different from when we started.”
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is a dilemma that impacts all businesses. “We were planning on opening before the beginning of the pandemic. Clearly this was an unforeseen obstacle, and this decision took immense thought,” Avalos says. “Yet in the end, we felt that we waited long enough. We had the resources to open, so that is what we did.”
In terms of work experience, the Avalos family knows their way around running a restaurant; that’s because, in addition to Casa Don Manuel the family also owns Hacienda Don Manuel, a Mexican restaurant in Suffern. This second venture is the result of successfully purchasing the property in Wayne during an auction.
What to Expect at Casa Don Manuel
Casa Don Manuel can seat about 300 people spread across their bar, dining room, and patio. (Which is not too much of a surprise, given the size of the building.) Outdoor seating is still pending approval, but will be the primary way of serving patrons until indoor seating resumes. In the meantime, they currently offer takeout.
As for what you’ll find on the menu, each item actually has special meaning to Avalos; in fact, she describes the food as homestyle cooking. “These are meals that I prepare for my daughters and that families in Mexico prepare for their children,” Avalos explains. For instance, she says one of her daughters, Andrea, loves the huaraches; similar to gorditas, these huaraches are also made with masa corn dough.
Meanwhile, her youngest daughter, Flor, loves the Casa Don Manuel chimichangas and chamorros; the latter is a pork shank they marinate with chile ancho sauce. As for customer favorites, so far the Molcajetes, Tampiquenas, and Classicos Regionales are the biggest hits. Click here to see the full dinner menu.
When it comes to drinks, however, Avalos says you have to try the margaritas. “You cannot beat a classic,” she says. They soon plan to introduce palomas, a grapefruit cocktail, as well as Micheladas, a beer cocktail. Of course, mojitos and sangrias are also customer favorites.
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