As a couple and business team, Oscar Serrano and Hailie Voskeritchian are growing Serrano’s Street Tacos & Bar beyond downtown to now Coronado.
From Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Serrano grew up in the restaurant life, his father owning and operating many restaurants, his mother cooking, and Serrano bartending from an early age. Voskeritchian, from San Diego, shared how he owned a steakhouse in Puerto Vallarta which was successful but hit hard by the early 2000s SARS outbreak. He also operated salons, spas and coffee shops including internet cafés.
“Everything crumbled down,” Voskeritchian said of the SARS fallout for Serrano, adding he decided to head to the United States and eventually opened up Serrano’s Street Tacos & Bar in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in 2016. “Then this happened.”
Voskeritchian said Serrano thought of the coronavirus pandemic: “Oh no, I have to go through this again.” But she said it’s worked out, the business losing a lot of money but at the same time able to gain a Coronado location. She touched on how it essentially fell into his lap and has worked out well since people were looking for restaurant work, and they could always still do takeout while they settled in.
When the pandemic took hold in March, the couple closed the restaurant’s doors downtown and didn’t reopen more fully until August, operating take-out with just Serrano, Voskeritchian, two cooks and a dishwasher. The downtown location is typically open until 3 am on weekends and now it’s 10 pm — but that has given them more time to work on the new spot in Coronado.
Serrano’s connection in real estate, who found the downtown location, texted Serrano out of the blue in spring regarding the vacancy on Orange Avenue near the bay. Voskeritchian said it was an encouraging find, considering the location and a great building owner looking for a reputable tenant who could make a restaurant work.
Starting with take-out, the Coronado version of Serrano’s Street Taco’s & Bar officially opened its doors Aug. 7 — with roomy al fresco dining available and 25% capacity indoor seating. In the back are VIP rooms for larger parties eventually but presently no more than six in one area.
The locale is pet-friendly and can make any margarita desired, Voskeritchian said. The menu serves up authentic Mexican flavors and a variety of comfort food dishes including the hit tacos. The bar is also a draw as well as salsas that patrons clamor for.
“Our salsas are so unique,” Voskeritchian said of the homemade items with mild and spicy options as well as explaining about the traditional roasted tomato, creamy cilantro and a Japanese red chili that people “go crazy for.” “I’ve never been to a restaurant where people are consistently asking to take home the salsas.”
Voskeritchian said Serrano is skilled at décor and is still developing the Coronado location with the colors of local artwork and soon a popular Mexican game, Lotería!, available at tables.
She emphasized Serrano’s does all required safety measures, and “we just try to make sure every customer feels at home.”
“They’re so many different restaurants they can choose from,” she added. “We’re just trying to give the best service and be so friendly.”
Serrano’s offers a Taco Tuesday with $2 fried seabass tacos and Baja-style, which draws many people downtown — and the restaurateurs are striving to attract Coronado residents and visitors to this feature as well.
The eatery took over the space most recently occupied by Mexican Village Cocina y Cantina. The original Mexican Village was housed in the historic building for over 50 years before others such as Firehouse Bar & Grill, Spicy House and Shima.
Learn more about Serrano’s and consider heading down to the northwest side of Orange on Tuesday for a deal on seabass tacos.