Jojutlas (ho-hoot-las) may not roll off the American tongue quite as well as some other restaurants’ names, but vice president of operations Gary Hulett prefers it that way.
“People can’t pronounce it. It’s not your typical restaurant name," Hulett said. But that adds to the buzz about the restaurant (people trying to pronounce the name and often coming up a little — or a lot — off).
The name — named for a town a couple hours south of Mexico City — is as authentic as the food inside the restaurant, 4934 Portage St., North Canton.
In operation for about three months now, Jojutlas boasts of tacos al pastor, taquitos, fish tacos, quesadillas and kiddie portions for los niños. Everything’s made from fresh ingredients, and the tortillas are even made in-house.
Plus, diners have a choice of 33 options to spice up their meals.
“We make everything from scratch,” Hulett said. “I’d call our dining experience a knife-and-cutting-board environment.”
After a trip to Jojutla, Mexico, with his chef Reymundo Lopez, Hulett said he wanted to bring aspects of the city back to the North Canton area.
“When I was there, I just fell in love with it,” Hulett said. “The culture, the food, the people, the philosophy on life. And I wanted to translate that experience into a restaurant.”
The city of Jojutla is reflected in not only the food, but the the turquoise and tan colors splashing the walls. Photos from Hulett’s trips to Jojutla also are framed in black and adorn the walls.
And Hulett is quick to tell you: what you're getting is not a fast-food experience. Jojutlas staff greet diners at the door and help them with their drinks. Another employee walks them through the menu and prepares their orders, going through an assembly line of main dishes and toppings. Diners make their way toward the cash register, where someone will meet them and show them to their seats.
The whole dining experience should take about 20-30 minutes and diners can expect to spend about $10 a person.
In addition to tables, customers can sit at a bar area and watch the food being made, too. Beside the cooking area is a dry stock area with fresh ingredients that are ready for use.
“So folks can see it’s a real open, working kitchen. It’s not just a facade,” Hulett said.
Hulett, who’s worked in restaurants nearly all his life, was a limited partner with Carrabba’s Italian Grill on The Strip for about 18 years until he decided it was time to open his own business.
He's excited to separate his business from the rest through an inviting atmosphere and employees who go beyond what’s expected.
“A lot of people have great food. A lot of people have great service. But what emotional impact are you making on the customer that’s going to drive them back in here? People will forget the food they have. They’ll forget the service they have. They won’t forget how you make them feel.”
Jojutlas, at a glance:
Restaurant: Jojutlas Mexican Grill
Address: 4934 Portage St., North Canton
Business number: 330-470-0037
Facebook: Jojutlas MX Grill
Community involvement: Jojutlas helps the community through fundraisers, offering 20 percent of sales back to the community. Recent fundraisers have included , Turnaround Community Outreach, Jackson Hockey and .
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