Taste of Acapulco

Olga Sanderson

Photo By Tom Gascoyne

Olga Sanderson was born in Acapulco, Mexico, and came to Chico 14 years ago. Three years later, she opened Aca Taco Mexican restaurant on Nord Avenue. The next year she opened a second restaurant downtown on Broadway. Both are still open and doing well by Chico standards—no mean feat in this town of ever-failing local businesses and steadily increasing chain operations moving in.

How did you get into the restaurant business?

My mom had a restaurant a long time ago. And, when I moved to the States, I couldn’t speak my own language for about a year. Then I went into a Mexican restaurant in San Luis Obispo and I felt at home. And I knew then that I wanted a place where I could play my music and speak my language and be me. I’d felt like I’d sort of lost my identity, I guess.

Do you cook?

I did at the beginning, but we didn’t have money to advertise, so I was more the public relations person.

What is the secret to your success?

I don’t know. I think just being nice to people. That and my cooks have been with me since I opened, so we have a good system and the same recipes.

I have to ask, do you notice that men have trouble looking you in the eye when they come in and order?

I have several problems with that. With women and with men. People say, “Well, you shouldn’t wear this.” But it’s part of my culture, and it is just me. I am very respectful. When couples come here, I don’t even look at the men. I have to look at the women and give the change to the women. I’m a mom. I come here. I come back at night. I go do homework with my kids. But people think, “Oh, men just go there to look at her.” Some women don’t like me and they don’t even know me.

You’ve got some brains…

Yes! My mom inspired me; she raised six children. My father died when he was young. In Mexico you don’t get any kind of welfare, but she raised us and she told us not to rely on looks because you get wrinkled or heavier in time. She always told us that in Mexico if you’re pretty you marry a rich husband and that’s it.

Why would you think people don’t like you? You are very pleasant.

They think I’m spoiled, but I work hard for everything. I came to the States with $100.