WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP – A popular restaurant in Wilkes-Barre Township is back in business.
La Tolteca closed its doors last April right before Cinco de Mayo to clean up and remodel after a fire caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage. But now the parking lot is packed, and the restaurant is reopened for the first time in about six months.
The tortillas are freshly made, the rice is ready, and the doors are open at La Tolteca in Wilkes-Barre Township. Customers were anxious to get their first taste of the Mexican restaurant’s food after a fire forced it to close last April.
"We’ve been looking forward to this for months, we’ve been actually going to the express La Tolteca because we work right next to it and I think we’ve been harassing them just about every day ‘when is this going to open, when is this going to open?’" said Kristen Woychio of Hunlock’s Creek.
Julie Bennett of Dallas actually ate lunch there the same day of the fire in April, the one that caused tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
"Got home that evening and saw on the news where it had been burned, and I’ve been driving by stalking it for the grand re-opening ever since,” said Bennett.
Many customers say the smells of the Mexican food cooking and getting to order their favorite foods again was worth the long wait.
"It’s like Christmas morning, it’s fantastic. I missed it so much,” said Tom Panatieri of Wilkes-Barre.
But for the dozens of people who work at La Tolteca, they say they’re just as excited to see these doors open as their loyal customers.
Victor Vargus is happy to be returning to his serving job here in Wilkes-Barre Township.
"It’s like the first day of school you know again, everyone’s excited you couldn’t sleep the night before but now that you’re here it’s game time," said Vargus.
Most of the about 30 employees are all returning to serve and cook up these dishes.
Violetta Venit of Hazleton says she’s sitting down to her usual.
"Two tacos rice and beans and then I fill up on the chips,” said Venit.
Customers say the food is just as good as they remembered along with the new atmosphere and décor.
"The service is amazing, and the atmosphere, it’s just, it’s gotten even better, said Woychio.
Restaurant managers say even though they are obviously open for business they plan to have an official grand reopening sometime next week.