In 2000 Olegario, better known as Ole, and Elena Delatorre moved to the Swannanoa Valley from Southern California, bringing the taste of authentic Mexican food with them. In 2007 they opened Ole's Guacamole, and a decade later it's bigger than ever. Elena Delatorre took time out of a recent busy Friday to tell The Black Mountain News the story of the restaurant.
The Black Mountain News: Ole's Guacamole celebrated its 10th anniversary throughout the month of February. What's been the key to operating a successful restaurant for all these years in Black Mountain?
Elena Delatorre: Fresh ingredients. We've stuck to using fresh ingredients since we opened, and we also purchase ingredients from the local farmers market. A lot of people think of Mexican food and they think of fat, grease or lard, but we don't use animal products. We use special oil. We have options for vegetarians, children and and we're looking into adding gluten-free items to the menu. We like to make everyone happy.
BMN: You guys are in the big building now (401 East State St.), but things started out quite a bit differently for Ole's Guacamole. How did you end up moving here from your original location?
Delatorre: We moved to North Carolina from California back in 2000. Ole used to work at Lowe's, in shipping and receiving. He had always dreamed of having a restaurant, and he spent a lot of time working in restaurants. He also learned a lot about cooking from his parents, growing up in Mexico. Cooking is his passion. One day I was driving around and I saw the old building (currently Fresh Wood Fired Pizza) and knew it was perfect. It was affordable, and we worked really hard to fix it up. It took us five months. I kept my full-time job and sure enough when we opened, the first day it was packed. We just kept growing and growing, so we finally decided to move to this location.
BMN: How much has Ole's Guacamole grown since those early days?
Delatorre: We've tripled in size. There we only had 12 tables, it was just our three sons and Ole and I. We hired two or three people to help out. Now we have 20 employees, the dining room, bar and patio. It's so much bigger now.
BMN: Where did the name came from?
Delatorre: His full name is Olegario, it's an Italian name. His nickname has been Ole since he was a little boy. So I came up with the name of the restaurant. I was thinking "Ole," then either "pozole" or "guacamole." I wanted it to be something that would stick. People love avocados. It was perfect.
BMN: But was guacamole something Ole was already good at making?
Delatorre: Oh, yes. He always made it for our cookouts. He would make guacamole, salsa, steak, rice, beans. There was always guacamole at the table, so that made the name even more perfect.
BMN: Ole's Guacamole stays pretty busy when the doors are open, what do you think is the reason for that?
Delatorre: We get support from everyone. The younger generation, the older generation, tourists, people that live here, we have people that come regularly from Old Fort and Marion. A lot of people will tell me that they drive here from Asheville and pass six or seven Mexican restaurants on their way here. And I don't say that to brag, it's just that I know the real McCoy. I was born and raised in California, but my parents are Mexican and they taught me about my roots. Ole's parents too.
BMN: What is the difference between authentic Mexican food and the rest?
Delatorre: When I see American cheese or yellow cheese on tacos, that's not right. Yellow cheese is for nachos at the movies, but real nachos have the white cheese, jalapenos, ground beef, stuff like that. We use natural ingredients, nothing canned, nothing in bottles, so I'm confident in our product.
BMN: A lot of people don't realize that Ole's Guacamole has a bar.. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Delatorre: It's called La Casa Azul and I named it after Frida Kahlo's home in Mexico City, because I love her work. It's a family bar because it's a great place for families to go. It's small, only six tables, but there is a real family-friendly atmosphere in there. We have families that come in and eat in there after games and things like that.
BMN: Besides guacamole, what's the thing that someone who is visiting Ole's Guacamole for the first time should try?
Delatorre: The Molcajete has been a big hit. It's a little new, we just put it out last year. It's a hot stone bowl, it comes with chicken, steak shrimp, Anaheim peppers, which are not spicy, onions, whole beans, chorizo, cheese and tortillas on the side so you can make tacos whenever you want.
BMN: How popular is your patio, which overlooks Flat Creek, when the weather is nice?
Delatorre: Everybody wants the patio. Number one, it's beautiful and there's shade. Also, the sound of the water is relaxing. It's so nice to sit out there and eat and drink while looking at all of the flowers and the green grass and the creek. We have a waiting list to sit out there during the summer.
BMN: Ole's Guacamole does catering?
Delatorre: We do. It's called Mrs. Ole's Party Planning and Catering. I offer those services for people that want to rent out our patio and have a baby shower, or a wedding shower or any other kind of private party.
BMN: What do you think is the best thing about Ole's Guacamole?
Delatorre: For me personally it's been being able to spend time with my sons, working together. As far as the restaurant is concerned, it's been great to show this community what authentic Mexican food really is. It's healthy and fresh.