By Johnny Jackson
Ana Ferrera is hoping that her new restaurant will attract diners from an increasingly diverse area.
"So far, so good," said Ferrera, part owner of Padres Mexican Restaurant and Grill in Locust Grove.
She and her husband, Jose Ferrera, who also own a restaurant downtown Atlanta, opened Padres in October with business partners Todd Fallaw, the owner of Stockbridge Express Car Wash, and Lisa Durham, the franchise owner of Taco Mac in Stockbridge.
Ana Ferrera said opening the restaurant -- located at 2879 Hampton-Locust Grove Road, in the Publix Shopping Center -- was an opportunity for the business partners to establish a unique dining experience in an area which has few alternatives.
She said she hopes the restaurant will develop a family-oriented atmosphere as it expands its menu to include more types of Latin American food.
"We're going to produce food for other Latin American people also, because not all Latin American food is the same," said Ana Ferrera.
Doing so, she added, may help attract those in Henry County's growing Latino community.
"Latinos are moving to Henry County more and more each day," she said. "A lot of Puerto Ricans are moving here from New York, Miami, and L.A. They're moving in from Puerto Rico as well."
Though the restaurant specializes in fajitas and margaritas, it has a varied menu which includes some unique items.
"We're trying to be different from the rest of the local Mexican restaurants," Ana Ferrera continued. "I try to introduce various Latin American dishes and appetizers to make the restaurant more unique."
The restaurant has captured a following from those who live nearby.
Locust Grove resident, Will White, has visited the restaurant about a half-dozen times since it opened on Oct. 13.
"The food is good, and I like the people," White said. "I'm glad to see new businesses trying to make things happen in Henry County, because we need it."
Fallaw, the restaurant's silent partner, said he hopes the eatery will see increased traffic as the college football bowl season rolls around.
"It's not an ordinary Mexican restaurant," said Fallaw, noting its bar-and-grill ambiance.
Fallaw said he is optimistic about local residents embracing Padres.
"Success, for us, is to be recognized as a family-oriented restaurant that has great service and great food," he said. "So far, it's been very positive. I'm looking for constant growth from here on out. Considering the economy, we're very happy about it."