Vera and Nico opened Nico’s Mexican Food in Eindhoven

Nico’s Mexican food is a familiar sight in the American Southwest. The Carreon family has over twenty restaurants in the states of Arizona and California. Nicolas Carrion, grandson of the founder, now runs Nico’s first European branch in Eindhoven. He does this together with Vera Odejans.

Nicholas’s grandfather is also called Nicholas: Nicholas Carion the First. Nico’s story begins with him. Grandfather Nicholas grew up in a poor family in a small Mexican village sIt is From Nico’s Mexican Food. In the 1970s he moved to America to work and build a better future. Finally, in 1982, the reward for years of hard work came from grandfather Nicholas: he and his wife Catalina saved enough money to open their own restaurant on the boulevard of downtown San Diego. His grandson, also known as Nicholas: “That first restaurant is still there. My uncle runs it now.

The first restaurant

Now, forty years later, the franchise has expanded to 24 restaurants. 23 of them are located in the American Southwest and the new branch opened on February 12 on the Hoogstraat in Eindhoven. Exactly two years ago, Nicholas became the manager of his first restaurant in Arizona. “I have learned a lot in these two years. I was alone for the first time. The work is not very difficult. The biggest challenge is getting the people you hire to deliver the same quality. It comes down to managing different people.

Football player, architect, restaurant owner

Continuing the family tradition wasn’t Nicholas’ big dream. “When I was young I wanted to be a soccer player and play in Europe. After a while I gave up on that dream. After that I wanted to be an architect. Eventually, my love for Nico spread while working in my parents’ restaurant. Apart from the fact that I liked the job, you can live well. That’s why I joined the company because it gives me a good feeling to help my family.

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A Mexican report on the wall at Nico’s Mexican Food. Translation: ‘In every hen house a good rooster sings.’ That means you can be successful anywhere if you are good at what you do.

big dream

nicholas’ The American Dream Nico’s is to make food available to everyone in the world. It’s a popular mentality in America, the idea that nothing can stand in your way of achieving what you want. “My parents and grandparents were hard workers, but they didn’t have that mindset.” So Nicolas is thinking big, but he says his focus is entirely on Eindhoven at the moment.

Best time in Arizona

So the dream begins here on the Hoogstraat. How does he get there? It has everything to do with Vera. Vera and Nicholas met during a school exchange at Northern Arizona University. Vera trained in leisure activities and events. “I saw America as a good place to study marketing,” says Vera. “As a country, America wasn’t at the top of my bucket list, but I had a great time there. Two of my roommates are still good friends, and of course I got to know Nicholas within a week.

America wasn’t at the top of my list, but I had a great time there

From Tucson to Den Bosch

The couple began a long-distance relationship. During the four and a half years they often traveled back and forth. He goes to Den Bosch where Vera lives. She is to Tucson, Arizona. Now they have decided to settle in the Netherlands. Why? “Actually, it would have been easier for me to go to America,” says Vera. “Practically and financially. But it will be very difficult for me to leave my family and friends. She has grown to love America more. “We plan to split our time eventually. We are in Arizona in the winter and the Netherlands in the summer. The restaurant here in Eindhoven is good, so here we are now.

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American in Eindhoven

On the contrary, it is not easy for an American from San Diego to come to the Netherlands, says Nicolas. “I had to leave my family there. And my other restaurant in Arizona, I always have in the back of my mind that everything is going well now that I’m gone. And the language. It’s tiring listening to Dutch all day, and I have to do my best to understand the language.

Real food

Nevertheless, Nicholas is happy in Eindhoven. “I like that everything is better connected in the Netherlands. In Arizona you need a car for everything, here you can cycle or walk. And he saw opportunities: “If you’re talking about authentic Mexican food, I thought Eindhoven didn’t have much to offer.” Vera: “A lot of people here are our We have a feeling they are willing to try the food. Eindhoven is an international city.

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Nico's Mexican Food
A corn tortilla with grilled bacon and guacamole. Photo: indebuurt Eindhoven

Everything is new

What do you taste here? Vera: “We have a lot in common.”Tex-Mex‘. Hence the authentic cuisine that originated on the border between Mexico and the United States. It is a fusion between food from northern Mexico and the southern states of the United States. According to Vera and Nicholas, the main difference with other Tex-Mex restaurants is freshness. “Take the tortillas. Both our corn sundal and flour sundal are homemade. With us they don’t taste like plastic: fresh and not dry,” explains Nicolas. Vera: “Making flour tortillas seems easy, but it took me three years to learn. You need feeling and experience to feel and see when the dough is right.

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Imported from Mexico

Vera and Nicolas try to keep the taste as authentic as possible in the Netherlands. Getting the right materials and equipment is a challenge here. So are pinto beans. tomato (green tomatoes) and serrano peppers are lesser known and difficult to obtain in the Netherlands, the couple says. Many of these products come directly from Mexico to Eindhoven via wholesalers. The tortilla machine in the kitchen is a different story: Nicholas imported it from America. “It’s expensive, but hopefully the investment pays off.”

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A property

The couple is satisfied with the festive opening day of Nico’s Mexican Food in Eindhoven. Vera: “It was confusing, we still had to get into a routine, but it was successful. The first reactions were positive. People are happy with us and think we add what they missed before. Nicolas: “Besides being happy with the new restaurant, I’m happy to be with Vera. Reaching.”

Nico’s Mexican Food

Hoogstraat 111, 5615PB Eindhoven

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