Closed since November 2011, the doors of the former KFC at 95 Mount Hermon Road in Scotts Valley opened to hungry customers once again on Monday, Aug. 20 as Salsa’s Taco Bar.
Owned and operated by Monterey Bay-area entrepreneurs Maria Valencia and Carlos Castro, Salsa’s boasts a menu with 10 varieties of salsa, nine types of meat and an extensive vegan and vegetarian section, as well as the centerpiece of the restaurant -- its varied selection of burritos.
While customers can try their luck with one of Salsa’s 5-pound burritos, even a simple wrap with beans, cheese, and sour cream is generously sized.
“That’s what we’re known for, is our portions,” Valencia said.
Valencia, who has owned shares in several Mexican food establishments in the past 20 years, such as El Palomar at the Santa Cruz Harbor and Cilantro’s in Watsonville, first got wind that the Scotts Valley property was available in May.
She said she jumped at the chance to open a second Salsa’s location, spurred in particular by many local customers who lamented the drive to the original on 17th Avenue and Brommer Street in Santa Cruz.
“I actually always talked about opening a restaurant in Scotts Valley,” she said.
After completing the paperwork in June, Valencia spent two months remodeling the entire building, including the patio area, bathrooms, countertops and kitchen facilities.
“We did a lot of cleanup,” she said. “(The building) was the same since 1974.”
Valencia said she had plans to change the restaurant’s hours within the next two months, opening earlier to offer more breakfast items.
The former KFC drive-thru is still in use, and the kitchen setup at Salsa’s is designed to serve fresh food quickly enough for hungry motorists eager to get back on the road.
“We have two lines in the kitchen,” Valencia said. “One for the drive-thru and one for the dining room and takeout.”
Valencia said with a chuckle that she had originally planned for a soft opening Aug. 20 without a lot of fanfare, but her daughter and another employee found the balloons that Valencia had bought to enliven the inside of the restaurant and proceeded to decorate the outdoor patio fence with them.
The next thing Valencia knew, “there was a line out the door.”
At a glance:
Salsa’s Taco Bar
Address: 95 Mount Hermon Road, Scotts Valley
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week