It always seems there is something to celebrate at Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant in Downtown Sandpoint. Whether it’s singing “Happy Birthday” to someone wearing the notorious sombrero, a private gathering in their party room or a night out with friends in the lounge, Jalapenos has been the place to go for many over the past 25 years. Now that is something to celebrate!
“It’s really amazing to stop and think about how few businesses in town have been open as long as that,” said Dave Vermeer, who along with Justin Dick owns Jalapenos.
Ownership of the iconic restaurant is one thing Dave never envisioned when he used to deliver beer to the original Jalapenos’ location, in what was once known as the Bootery on Cedar Street. “I’ve loved Jalapenos from the beginning,” he said.
After the original Cedar Street location, the owners, Chet and Shari French, moved the restaurant to the building on First Avenue, which houses Starbucks and Pita Pit, before moving to its current location on Second Avenue. Now in their fifth year as owners, Dave and Justin have done an incredible job as they have expanded on the mission of providing quality food and quality service at great prices.
The pair agrees that they would not be where they are today without the support of the community and their incredible staff, many of whom have been with Jalapenos for more than a decade. General Manager Chelsea Page has been a part of the team since day one when she started 25 years ago. Bar Manager Kari Gors has been with them for 16 years, and both Assistant Manager Amy Oxford and Kitchen Manager Nick Utt have been a part of the staff for 11 years.
“We also have a father-and-son team, Ruben and Mundo Rodriguez from Atotonilco, Jalisco, Mexico, who have been with us for 16 and 15 years respectively,” said Dave. “In fact, much of our menu is generated from that part of Mexico.”
And for those who love to visit the fish tank while at Jalapenos, you should note that Mango the fish has been there for 17 years!
Two years ago, Justin and Dave hired Executive Chef Walter Hayes who has been instrumental in expanding the menu offered at Jalapenos. It has even more choices of authentic Mexican food as well as American cuisine and includes something for the entire family.
So what about this 25-year celebration? On April 16, which also happens to be Margarita Monday at Jalapenos, they will offer $1 crispy tacos with either beef or chicken. If you happen to miss that, just know that there is always a celebration going on at Jalapenos. In addition to Margarita Monday, there is Taco Tuesday and a new family favorite, Magic Wednesday, which features magician Star Alexander.
While Justin and Dave are extremely grateful for all the support Jalapenos has been given by both customers and staff throughout the years, the community, too, is blessed to have them. Last year alone they donated to more than 100 organizations and causes and began the Dine Out for a Cause tradition, donating proceeds from a specific evening to a chosen cause. “Those of us who live here realize what an unbelievable community it is,” said Dave. “Giving back is part of what it means to live in a small community.”
Thank you to Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant for bringing the community together to celebrate fine food and friends. Cheers to another 25 years!
Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant
314 North Second Avenue
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864