CEDAR RAPIDS — Chris Burhans is becoming a morning person.
As owner of Gringo’s Cafe and Catering, in the Armstrong Centre Food Court in downtown Cedar Rapids, he’s transitioned to spending his mornings and days rather than nights and weekends.
That’s because besides offering lunch Gringo’s now offers breakfast during the week as well.
“We started breakfast a few months after opening and we are building that part of the business slowly,” said Burhans, noting they offer breakfast bowls, burritos and quesadillas.
The new Gringo’s location, which opened in April of last year, is just a few blocks from the original Gringo’s site on First Avenue SE, which started in 1981. After closing that location in 2013, Burhans spent a few years away from the restaurant industry, before finding a way to make a return that allowed more flexibility and time for family.
“I was searching for a place to re-open the business and came here to the Armstrong Centre,” he said. “While I knew it would be a big change, I felt it would be a great fit for offering breakfast and lunch options.”
So far, Burhans said the change in venue for Gringo’s has been great.
“We really like being in the center of downtown instead of on the edge of it. It also makes a difference to have skywalk access.”
The restaurant, currently open only during the week and on Saturday mornings during the downtown farmers market season, has a steady lunch crowd and a growing breakfast market, he said.
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“We are just making smaller batches of fresh food daily,” said Burhans, noting that the new Gringo’s offers the same menu items — including their salsa, queso, guacamole and its Macho Nachos — that longtime customers knew.
Many customers opt for carryout, but Burhans said, “We fill this room for lunch, especially on Wednesdays with our $8 all-you-can-eat taco buffet.”
Burhans added that, “It’s nice to see the rekindled interest in our catering. We are getting tons of calls and are hearing from a lot of old clients. Catering is a nice backbone for us.”
The restaurant offers taco and fajita bar options.
With a smaller staff-including a manager and five part-time employees, Burhans continues to wear a lot of hats, including head dishwasher as he likes to joke.
“Usually I’m in the back in the kitchen, but you’ll see me out here at the counter,” he said. “I’m definitely a working owner.
“And I try to come out here and talk to people after the rush. It’s fun to provide a good product and get to know our regulars.”
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At a glance
• Owner: Chris Burhans
• Business: Gringo’s
• Address: 210 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• Phone: (319) 200-2777
• Website: gringoscr.com