Cactus opens 2nd restaurant for space
The popular Iowa City Mexican restaurant Cactus, located at Gilbert and Burlington streets, recently opened a second location. Cactus 2 offers the same menu and specials and is less than a block from the original locations at 314 E. Burlington St., the former location of Cheba Hut.
"We made that decision because the place that we have right now wasn't big enough to take care of all of our customers and we decided to try and find a bigger place, but we couldn't find anything downtown," manager Noe Tellez said.
The expansion was necessary because the restaurant often didn't have enough space to seat customers and wasn't able to take reservations.
"Sometimes (customers) would come in and there was no space or they would have to wait for a table," owner Rene German said. "Now it's just a couple of feet away."
The extra space already has proven to be helpful.
"It's just a relief for the main (restaurant)," Tellez said. "Sometimes there is no room there. (Customers) didn't want to come down anymore and they didn't want to risk it and now they will call in and they would want a reservation and now we have an option. Now we do take reservations. Before we couldn't take one."
And the extra space hasn't gone unnoticed by customers.
"I actually went to Cactus for the first time this year and I liked it," University of Iowa junior Gina D'Anna said. "But then I went to Cactus 2 and it was so much nicer; it felt less crammed."
The only difference between the two locations are their hours of operation, German said. Cactus opens at 11 a.m. while Cactus 2 does not open until 3 p.m.
And although a lot of their customers know about the new location, they are still trying to spread the word, German said.
"I would say that 60 percent of our customers know now about our second location, but there are still some that don't know," Tellez said.
Tellez said customers have mentioned that they like the different arrangement within Cactus 2. But Tellez and German agree that what makes both locations popular is the customer service.
"The way that we take care of (our customers) is different," Tellez said. "I've been working here awhile ... and I try to encourage our waiters to take care of our customers. Service is our main thing. That's why people keep coming here."
"We actually had a waiter at Cactus who is now a manager at Cactus 2 who is the best," D'Anna said. "He's always rushing around to bring everyone what they need, always making sure they have everything and makes the whole experience a lot more fun."