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Poblanos brings the Southwest to Kernstown

Shrimp fajitas are served up at Poblanos. Sally Voth/Daily

Poblanos executive chef Jacqueline Gutierrez prepares fajitas. Sally Voth/Daily

By Sally Voth

It's not just the red, orange, green and yellow paint job that's fresh at Poblanos Southwest Grill at Creekside Station in Kernstown.

All of the meat, produce and other ingredients that go into the cooking are as well, said Iqbal "Ike" Ismailwala, who owns the restaurant along with Baburao Samala and Suresh Kothindi. It is in the space that had been occupied by the Daily Grind.

Ismailwala said months of research went into developing Poblanos' Southwestern-style menu.

"This is the concept that we like just because of the freshness that we wanted," he said. "We see that people also like the Tex-Mex, so we thought why not go with this concept and offer fresh and fat-free food?"

Ismailwala said it was important to him to provide healthy fare for customers, especially children.

"Personally, I want to make sure that our kids, American kids, should get very, very healthy food," said the father of two. "Obesity is a problem. We are offering three days [when] kids eat free."

Poblanos, which is open everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., first opened its doors Oct. 12.

"It's going good," said Ismailwala. "We're getting good responses. Slowly, slowly we're introducing new items. We also want to make sure at the same time that our employees get trained well before we do more marketing and shouting loud in the city."

Diners on a time budget can order from a create-your-own menu that offers a variety of meats that can be added to burritos, tacos, rice bowls, quesadillas or taco salads. Steak, chicken and marinated slow-cooked beef can go into the meals, or they can be vegetarian.

There are also specialty burritos, including Baja fish tacos, and completas -- complete meals -- featuring steak, pan-seared cod and Peruvian chicken, choice of rice, choice of beans and tortillas. Children's meals are available.

"The food is marinated overnight and some of the food is slow-cooked," Ismailwala said. "The customer can have fresh food in a few minutes. They can create their own food.

"[If] somebody wants to come and have their food [ready in] five minutes -- boom -- and fresh food [they can], and somebody wants to sit 15 minutes, they can have their 15-minute dish also."

In addition, there is a coffee bar and breakfast menu. There are also soups du jour. Besides the colorfully painted dining tables and leather seats, near the windows are sofas and chairs for people to wake up, or unwind, over coffee and pastries.

Executive chef Jacqueline Gutierrez just started offering diners fajitas and shrimp enchiladas. She is from Miami and of Cuban descent. She and the owners are working on various specials and new dishes all the time.

"I try to focus on local sustainable businesses where we can be sustainable in the community," Gutierrez said.

All of the produce and meats come from within a 65-mile radius, she said.

"That makes it good for the community and good for us," Gutierrez explained. "Everything is fresh and local. Our queso sauce, we make it from scratch. We get fresh produce everyday, fresh meat. The next day, it's all fresh meat again. We make everything here. I don't buy any soups."

She makes a variety of sauces, and plans to soon make roasted mole sauce, and a very hot chambala chutney. Poblanos gets its name from a type of pepper.

Gutierrez also has plans to do a breakfast buffet.

In addition to the management, there are 12 other employees. Lucas Smith started as manager last week. He said he thinks Creekside Station is an ideal location.

"I love this shopping center," he said. "It's beautiful. The property's amazing. I think it's a phenomenal location for a restaurant."

Noting the Christmas lights and trees, the garland and candy canes and the Spanish music, Smith said the staff wants to "always keep it festive -- festive and fun."

Most of the lunch and dinner prices are in the $6-$7.50 range, with children's meals $4.49. High school and college students get 10 percent off, and on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, children eat free with each adult purchase.

Ismailwala said there are monthly deals. This month's diners get their fourth meal free after three purchases of at least $7.50. The restaurant is also raffling off an Android tablet and e-reader.

Poblanos also does free deliveries to businesses, and caters.

For more information, call 504-7671, or visit www.poblanosgrill.com.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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