william “guedo” samora iii
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William “Guedo” Samora III
May, 2011, Page 159
Photo by Richard Maack
BACK OF THE HOUSE
With Guedos Cantina Grille, owner William “Guedo” Samora III’s goal is to provide an authentic Mexican experience without a passport. (Pronounce the name “WEH-doh,” not “Guido,” or you’ll be pegged a gringo immediately.)
Outside, a sand-floor patio with surfboards, strings of plastic chiles, piñatas and ceramic parrots under a palm-thatched roof fronts a yellow adobe-style building. Inside, faded photos and newspaper clippings are plastered to the walls. It’s a bit funky, kind of junky, but it reflects the owner’s laid-back persona.
“I’m an old hippie, and I’m Hispanic, and I’m a [Jimmy] Buffett fan,” Samora explains.
Born and raised in Mesa and spending summers in Chihuahua, Mexico, Samora started working at age 16 cleaning the kitchen at his family’s restaurant. He opened Guedo’s Taco Shop in 1985 and gradually expanded, adding the outdoor bar and changing the name in 2007. If you go, bring cash – Guedo’s doesn’t take credit cards.
What was the name of your family’s restaurant?
Eduardo’s. It was a pretty popular place. It was across from where the old Motorola used to be on Broadway and Alma School [roads].
Where else did you work before starting Guedo’s?
I was in Michigan, I was in Florida, I was in California and I was in Guatemala City, Guatemala. After private resorts, I started working for hotels, and then I started working in the catering business. I met a guy at a bar outside St. Petersburg who needed someone to run discothèques in South America.
Why did you open your own place and compete in a city with so many taquerías and Mexican restaurants already?
In the ’80s there weren’t that many. Chandler was a small town. There weren’t that many taco shops. [And] this was a hobby I was going to do until I opened my gourmet restaurant.
What do you do that makes your food special?
Keep it simple and use top-line ingredients. No taco shop uses top sirloin choice Angus beef. Good food starts with quality, and after that comes consistency.
Why don’t you serve chips and salsa?
We serve chips and salsa on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s not really a sit-down restaurant. It’s got a fast-food setup where you come up to the counter. I want people to get up and be part of the experience. I had two customers who met in line and got married.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
Yeah, I do. We’re open now five days. We’re opening on Sunday and possibly seven days. I’ll do a Bloody Mary bar and $2.50 beers all day Friday through Sunday. We’re going to blow this place out. We’re going to add to the outside – neon lights, we’re going to light the trees up, we’re going to run Friday and Saturday specials, we’re going to add to the menu. We’re going to put more TVs out here [on the patio]. But we’re still not going to be late, late, late – it’s still going to be family-oriented. We’re going to make it “Mexican Buffett beachy.
William “Guedo” Samora III
Guedo’s Cantina Grille
71 E. Chandler Blvd., Chandler,
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