Josue Chanduvi has always spent much of his time in the kitchen. “My life has revolved around food,” he said with a smile. Strictly Business’ interview with Chanduvi took place in the dining room of Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen, his restaurant in Plattsburgh’s south end.
Chanduvi grew up in the North Country, the youngest of six children. His grandmother, Lucia Lachria-Lacruz, was the matriarch of his family and had a strong influence on him. “She was a humble woman who made the best of every scenario,” he explained. “She was a seamstress who grew up in Peru, South America, but ultimately came to Plattsburgh. She enjoyed telling stories, dancing and cooking.” When his grandmother cooked, Chanduvi said, she did it effortlessly and “it was so honest and so full of love.” That is how he cooks at Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen. So he never forgets, a portrait of his grandmother sits on a shelf in the dining room.
Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen menu items include many dishes that Chanduvi grew up with. Some are Peruvian-inspired, from the area where his grand- mother and mother came from. Others are Cuban inspired dishes from his father’s native country. Each week, Chanduvi and his staff — he has five employees — hand make tortillas for Taco Tuesdays. “I love tacos,” he exclaimed. He offers beef, salmon, chorizo, fish, and vegetarian tacos on the fresh tortillas. On the lunch menu, Chanduvi offers a “trust me” option for customers who can’t decide what they want. Choose this option and he will create something unexpected for you that isn’t on the menu. While his trust me dishes are unique he admits his creations sometimes inspire new menu items or specials.
Chanduvi works with local farmers to incorporate fresh ingredients in his menu. He sources some of his meat from Donahue Farms in Malone and works with Shady Grove Farm in Peru for produce. His goal is to not only serve fresh, high-quality food in his restaurant, but to also introduce his customers to foods that are available locally. Chanduvi wants to develop relationships that are beneficial to both his business and area farmers. “If Shady Grove has 20 pounds of tomatoes available one week, I will buy them and figure out how to use them in our menu. It forces us to be creative. It’s exciting,” In support of his commitment Chanduvi encourages other restaurants to increase their local buying. “It would be incredible if area restaurants aimed to spend 25% of their food costs at local farms.”
In addition to the fine food Chanduvi serves up at his U.S. venue restaurant he provides free delivery to patrons at nearby Oval Craft Brewing located on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base Oval, which does not serve food on site. He also caters events at Highland Vineyards in Keeseville.
The outpouring of support from the community has been inspiring to Chanduvi. “People have been willing to try new food and are making an investment in me and allowing me to live my dream.” Another key component to his success is the love, support and wisdom his parents have provided. “My parents have given me so much,” Chanduvi said. His father helped to renovate the restaurant space and “he can fix anything,” the proud son added.
SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY
Chanduvi holds memories of his childhood and relationships with his family close to his heart and has created an atmosphere in his restaurant designed to make customers feel comfortable and at home. “When people laugh in your home or your business, it brings good energy to the space,” he said. Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen can seat nearly 50 people and the outdoor patio can accommodate 30. He hopes to add alcohol to his menu soon.
Chanduvi loves the North Country and hopes to grow a family here. “There is so much opportunity here,” he exclaimed. “It dawned on me that I’m home when I saw the community’s support for me. I believe if you are willing to invest in your community, your community will invest in you.” Owning your own business, he said, is “scary at times, but liberating.”
Naming his businesses after his grandmother was a way for Chanduvi to honor and remember the woman who did so much for him. “If my grandmother were alive today she would be in the kitchen and she’d be dancing. I would love for her to see how far I’ve come.”
As my interview with Josue Chanduvi wrapped up, he observed, “There are key people in your life that put you on a path to a new destiny. I hope to be that person for somebody someday.”