Chandler Edition - September 2021

DINING FEATURE Nando’sMexican Café Families old and new mark success of restaurant T im Shaughnessy was a nervous 16-year-old when he was met at a Scottsdale restaurant by a gru 24-year-old Fernando “Nando” Rios for a busing job interview.


by trade, did the metal work in the restaurants, including constructing a “tree of life” sculpture for each. For Shaughnessy, family does not stop at the blood lines. He said the “Nando’s family” includes the employees, many of whom have stayed on long term. “The kids running the stores—nah, I shouldn’t say that anymore—the folks, the managers running the stores now all grew up with us,” he said. “[They started as servers], bartenders, bus boys, whatever.” Some met their spouses at one of the restaurants, had their weddings catered from them and now bring their children in. Shaughnessy said that is what makes the restaurants special. Jessy Forman, who manages the bar at the Gilbert location, said that liking her job is an understatement.

When his mother picked him up, he was sure he had blown it. But a few hours later he was called and asked if he had black shoes and black pants and, when he answered in the armative, told to be there by 6 p.m. A couple months later, Shaugh- nessy nally got up the nerve to ask the intimidating man why he had hired him. “Because I had two people call out that day, and I needed someone,” Rios answered. They became the best of friends over the next 17 years. Then they became business partners for the

Owner Tim Shaughnessy (right) enjoys loyalty from employees such as (from left) General Manager Rosi Gibson (10 years), Assistant Manager Tony Gomez (ve years) and Bar Manager Jessy Forman (5 1/2 years).


The Faja Pasta ($14.95) is a Nando’s creation served on a bed of fettucine.

El Numero Dos ($14.95) has a taco, cheese enchilada and bean tostada.

past 18 years in Nan- do’s Mexican Café in Gilbert, which has grown to four restaurants in the East Valley, includ- ing Chandler in 2012. A fth opens in Mar- icopa next year. While the partner-

Her aunt, who for- merly worked at the restaurant, referred her a week after she moved to Arizona. “This was sup- posed to be my


EAST VALLEY REACH Nando’s Mexican Café has grown from one Gilbert location.

4 current locations 1 on the way 221 employees 250 employees when fully staed

2003 Gilbert opening 2012 Chandler opening

steppingstone job, just something to get me by,” she said. “And I’ve been here ve and a half years.” Forman is putting herself through school, and Shaughnessy said stories like hers make him proud. “We’ve always had good kids, and hopefully that’s a reection of own- ership—Nando, Sean and myself,” he said.

ship is among three friends—third friend Sean Whalen joined in when they opened the Mesa location in 2009—families are critical to the success. The recipes come from Rios’ mom and dad, who helped established the restaurant, although both have since passed. Shaughnessy’s dad, a welder

Nando’sMexican Café 1890 W. Germann Road, Chandler 480-855-4344 Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.



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