The story of El Colima reflects the quintessential American dream: having a vision and investing the long hours necessary to build a successful business.
Alma and Enrique Moreno opened El Colima in August, 2008. Enrique created the menu and was the only chef. Alma greeted guests, took orders, cleared tables, and helped to prepare the food.
The work in a restaurant is never ending, and although they have relatives and some staff to help out, you’ll find Enrique or Alma at El Colima pretty much from opening until closing.
The trail to Nashua
As a young man, Enrique picked apples, cherries, and onions in the Pacific Northwest. His father cooked in a Mexican restaurant in California, which gave Enrique his first view of restaurant life. At 19, he traded the fields for the kitchen. When his family moved to Texas, Enrique cooked at his father’s side, first at his uncle’s restaurant and then at various chains, including Chili’s, the Olive Garden, and the Black-Eyed Pea.
Being a restaurateur must have run in Enrique’s family, as his uncle owned two Mexican food restaurants, Tino’s Cantina and Tino’s Too, in Plano, Texas.
Alma started making tortillas when she was just eight and living in Colima. She learned the skill from her mother, using only her hands to mix the dough of maize flour and water. She would pat little round cakes and press them flat using a wooden tortilla maker.
Alma and Enrique moved to Nashua shortly after getting married. Enrique had been living in Plano, and Alma moved straight from Mexico — trading a tropical climate for New England’s winters. She says the cold doesn’t bother her, but she doesn’t like driving in the snow.
Roots in Colima
Both Enrique and Alma were born near the Pacific Ocean in the state of Colima, Mexico. Colima lies between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. One of Mexico’s smaller states, it is larger than Rhode Island and smaller than Delaware. Nearly 600,000 people call Colima home.
Volcanoes are the most prominent landscape feature, including two peaks that tower about 14,000 feet above the ocean. The taller and older of the two, Nevado de Colima, is inactive. The younger, Volcán de Colima, is Mexico’s most active volcano, erupting 40 times since 1576, most recently in 2008. Wikipedia has a great article on the Colima volcanoes, if you’re interested in learning more.
From the warm ambiance to the family-style service, you can’t beat El Colima for your next night out!