¡Bravo! Mexican Grill receives warm welcome in Norwood

Published 3:31 pm Monday, July 8, 2024

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By Lindsey Powell, for the SNAP

¡Bravo! Mexican Grill in Norwood recently celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its six-month anniversary.
The restaurant opened early this year and is situated by Lake Tillery, serving a blend of Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican cuisine.
Co-owner and manager Mario Bravo has more than 23 years of industry expertise alongside business partners Olegario Saldana and Maria Hernandez. They own several restaurants throughout Rowan and Stanly counties.
They opened their first restaurant in December 2000, and ¡Bravo! is now their fifth restaurant. Saldana and Hernandez primarily manage Mi Fuente Fresh Mexican Grill in Locust, while Bravo manages this newest restaurant.

An order of enchiladas supremas awaits a customer. (Photo by Lindsey Powell)

Before he owned a restaurant, Bravo worked in one.
“In the beginning, I just started washing dishes,” said Bravo. “I didn’t know it was going to be my favorite type of business I’d want to do.”
He worked his way through every role in the restaurant, from cook to waiter, until he ultimately became manager and owner of his own restaurant. While many think he named the restaurant after himself, Bravo had a different reasoning behind choosing the name.

A half order of chimichangas is another popular dish. (Photo by Lindsey Powell)

“[Bravo] means happy. That’s what it means. Like celebration.”
With this budding restaurant under his leadership, what is Bravo’s recipe for success? The key is his secret ingredient: customer service.
“Of course, you have to have good food,” he said. “But when you have good food, the rest is customer service. Make the customer feel welcome, like “Welcome, this is your home. This is your place.’ ”
Bravo said Norwood has extended this same welcome to him.
“Norwood has nice people. Everybody knows everybody. They walk in like, ‘Hey, Mario!’ I love it,” he said. “We’ve been blessed. We’ve had more business than we thought. We’ve started good.”
As far as opening more restaurants in the future goes, Bravo said it is a possibility.
“Not here, but in [other] little towns,” he said. “We like small, little towns. Not big cities.”
For now, his focus is mainly on ¡Bravo! and on building relationships with his customers.
“Just come see us,” Bravo said. “Everybody’s welcome here, and we’re happy to see everybody.”

Lindsey Powell is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.