Born and bred in Corrales, Jude Sanchez, aka “Bad Boy” to some, continually delights Corraleños with delicious and innovative meals at his popular restaurant, Las Ristras of Corrales. A chef-in-the-making from his early teen years, he is one of our young entrepreneurs who brings glory (and revenue) to our village.
What is an entrepreneur? According to Jude, “A person who is willing to work 110 hours for himself instead of 40 hours a week for someone else.” Hard work and long hours are surely part of the entrepreneurial mix, along with a willingness to take risks. Anyone who has started a new business knows that analytical thinking goes just so far in predicting success. It also takes many sleepless nights to achieve reputation, growth and eventual profit.
“We are in the hospitality industry,” says Jude. “Our goal is make everyone happy. A bad day is when any table has a complaint. It’s a downer for all of us – and we’ve got to push past it.”
He was washing dishes in restaurants when at age fourteen, so the idea of opening his own came early. He also loved cooking at an early age and was encouraged by his mother and sisters. He took all opportunities to talk with chefs at restaurants whenever he had a chance, consciously building his knowledge base over many years. By fifteen he was catering family events, including his own high school graduation.
Describing himself as a “start-up kind of person,” Jude found that he excelled at creating systems. Anyone who has watched Las Ristras grow knows that these systems helped the Las Ristras exceptional team of food preparers and servers. He has a fine track record for growing and keeping talent.
Another important entrepreneurial skill is soliciting and listening to feedback. Don’t like something you’ve ordered, the service, or anything else that interferes with a first-rate dining experience, tell Jude and he’ll do something about it. He also relies on local mentors, a common trait among successful entrepreneurs. Chief among them are Steven Levine, founder of Blackcow Branding, and Norm Schreifels, founder of Sun Mountain Construction.
Jude stresses local sourcing, aiming for the freshest of everything he serves. The menu at Las Ristras is comprised of quintessential New Mexican dishes which are made even better using locally grown green chile and other New Mexican products. One of the highlights of each week is the now famous Taco Tuesday. More adventuresome fare includes New Mexico grass-fed steaks, spicy New Mexican style rubbed ribs, various fresh seafood dishes (yes, seafood in Corrales!), and scratch-made breakfast bakery items, prepared by JerriAnn. Local herbs and greens accompany most meals, served with a spicy, secret house dressing. A recently hard-won liquor license means that beer and an ever-expanding wine list are available. Wednesday evening is “date night” with ½ price bottles of wine.
Plans for the future are exciting and may include an expanded kitchen, a bakery and deli – stay tuned. Jude’s final words: “We’re here for you, working hard!”.