Jul 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

Owners of DSM's El Chero fight for liquor license in hopes to stay open

A photo of El Chero restaurant in Des Moines.

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

El Chero Restaurant on Des Moines' east side opened about three months ago but the owners are fighting to stay afloat.

Driving the news: Drink sales are important for restaurant financials and the couple — Hans Gutierrez and Ziomara Mejia — are struggling while they attempt to win city approval for their liquor license, Gutierrez said.

  • A city ordinance requires a 75-foot distance from parks for a business that sells alcohol.
  • Their place is within 40 feet of Ashfield Park.

State of play: Gutierrez and Mejia met while working in another metro restaurant.

  • He was born in Honduras and she was raised in El Salvador where she helped her mom sell street food.
  • They got married about a year ago and are expecting their first child.

What's next: They will go before the DSM Zoning Board of Adjustment next week for a variance to the city's separation requirement.

  • If approved, El Chero will sell margaritas and other alcoholic drinks as quickly as possible, Gutierrez said.

The menu: Dozens of culturally-inspired eats that include breakfasts with eggs, beans and cheese tortillas.

  • The El Chero is one of the restaurant's specials that includes grilled chicken, shrimp, fried onion, guacamole, rice and bean.

What I ate: I was interested in the pupusas — thick griddle cakes stuffed with cheese and other goodies. They are a food Mejia sold as a child.

  • I tried one with spinach and another with zucchini ($2.80 each).

💬 Thought bubble: Delicious.

  • When I return, I hope to purchase an adult beverage in celebration of a restaurant that's unlike any other in the metro.

Hours: 9am-10pm daily.

  • 1832 Hubbell Ave.
A photo of a pupusa.
A spinach pupusa. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

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