Title and firm: Andre J. Votion Sr. is co-owner of Tejano Corner Espresso Bar & Grill in the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Willoughby Avenue.
Services: In addition to a variety of espresso and coffee drinks, Votion said the cafe-style restaurant serves Tex-Mex fare and a few American favorites.
Tejano food comes from a blending of the Mexican and Texan-American cultures shortly after the battle of the Alamo.
One of the biggest differences between Tejano food and authentic Mexican cuisine is the use of flour tortillas for items such as fajitas, he said. Another trademark Tejano ingredient is a ranchero sauce that is a Texas version of Mexican salsa, he said. The ranchero sauce, he said, tends to be spicier because of the serano peppers used in the recipe.
He said much of the food served at Tejano Corner has some variation of a tomato sauce base and rice, although many of his dishes are also served with refried or whole beans.
Votion said though most of his customers are in a hurry to get back to work, he tries to make each dish as presentable as any non-fast-food restaurant.
Quotable: "We try to make plates that catch people's eyes," he said. "I consider cooking an art form. I mix the ingredients like an artist would mix his colors to get a certain background."
Background: Votion was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, where he worked from a young age in his grandfather's cafe. He said he formally learned to cook while he was in the Marine Corps and has been an amateur chef for many years. It wasn't until earlier this summer when he and business partner Rob Butler decided to take his love of cooking seriously and turn it into a career. He was offered space at ANB Hall, left his job as a program director for Gastineau Human Services and opened the doors of his new restaurant to the public Aug. 1.
"The biggest obstacle we face is that people think you have to be a Native Alaskan to come into the ANB Hall," Votion said. "We're trying to help people break that train of thought. It's here for everyone and everyone is welcome."
Family: Votion and his wife Sylvia have three children.
Contact information: Call Votion at 586-2043 or visit at 320 West Willoughby.
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