Chef Lester Gonzalez of Cowboy Ciao on Last Year's Bankruptcy and Who to Look Out For In His Kitchen
This is part two of our interview with Lester Gonzalez, chef at Scottdale's Cowboy Ciao. If you missed the first part of the interview, in which Gonzalez talked about the restaurant's new location at Sky Harbor Airport and his gave his thoughts about Gio Osso of Virtu, you can read it here. Today, he talks about the restaurant's Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and the one place he would want to eat in the world -- and it's not anywhere you'd be likely to guess.
Lauren Saria Chef Lester Gonzalez of Cowboy Ciao
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Courtesy of Cowboy Ciao Puerco Lento
It's been a year since news came out that Peter Kasperski, owner of Cowboy Ciao in Old Town Scottsdale, filed Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court under Cowboy Ciao LLC. It didn't take long for people to start whispering about the possibility of the restaurant closing -- rumors that were put to rest fairly quickly when Kasperski released a statement explaining that the bankruptcy meant the company would be reorganizing.
Things were pretty quiet after that, but we asked Gonzalez what the aftermath looked like on the inside.
"It was terrible," he says. "It was really hard, very stressful. And it took some time to recover, but we're still here."
He tells us, honestly, that he had serious hesitation about whether or not he wanted to stay at the restaurant where he had worked for so long. In moments of doubts, he turned to his mother for advice and support.
"My thing was, I can't give up. I'm not going to be that guy that just gives up," he says.
Despite that, Gonzalez doesn't seem to have any qualms now about the belief that Cowboy Ciao isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The chef speaks matter-of-factly about the seasonal ebb and flow of patrons for the restaurant. There have been better summers in the history of the restaurant, he admits. But there have also been worse.
The bottom line?
"People still love this place," he says.