The menu at Mi Cocina de Amor — which means "My Kitchen of Love" — isn't so different from the menu at his grandfather's restaurant decades ago. Before opening, Gonzales and his assistant holed up in the kitchen for several days making all of Gonzales' family recipes, figuring out how to make the same food consistently and in large batches.
The result is a menu of authentic Mexican dishes, peppered with references to his family's specialties, like his grandmother's sauce. He plans to have tortillas shipped in from Arizona every week.
"The shipping costs more than the tortillas, but it's worth it," he said.
"It's authentic Mexican food. Not that there's anything wrong with the Americanized stuff, but it's not what I'm doing here."
More specifically, it's food from the Sonora part of Mexico, the northernmost part of the country that borders Arizona, not Texas, where Tex-Mex style food comes from. In this region, and Gonzales' restaurant, they serve a lot of rich red sauces and white cheeses.
There's a local slant, too. Gonzales is proud that he's been able to employ six people from the community who were previously out of work, making some small contribution to the local economy he's so recently become a part of.
He hopes the restaurant will be a way for him to embed himself in the community here. Already, he's started to recognize people from the neighborhood, and he hopes his restaurant becomes a sort of fixture there over time.
"When people eat, that's very personal for them," he said. "And if you can make it about more than just the food, you can really make it into an experience."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.