Holy Guacamole brings burrito love to downtown Kitchener

Amy Grief
CCE CONTRIBUTOR

Holy Guacomole staff prepare their burritos before the lunch rush. Owner Melissa Allensen estimates they serve 150 a day – Nick Lachance, Photo Manager

After opening a mere ten months ago self-described “Fresh Mex” restaurant Holy Guacamole, located in the heart of downtown Kitchener, has been serving up freshly-made burritos, tacos and quesadillas to scores of hungry office workers.

Run by Kitchener local Melissa “Birdie” Allensen, Holy Guacamole is a family operation. “I’ve worked in restaurants since I’ve been able to work. Just like Boston Pizza, stuff like that and I just loved cooking school,” explained Allenson. “My dad is actually a Red Seal Chef, so he makes all the meats and stuff. And my mom is just a really good cook.”

For Allensen, serving up fresh Mexican-inspired food was a no-brainer. “Our background is Spanish so we just went with that.” Simple and delicious is the key for Allensen. “It’s like your Subway. Your Mexican Subway,” she joked.

Hailing from Chile, Allensen’s mother whips up fresh salsa — both mild and hot — along with their namesake guacamole daily. Her father seasons and slow-cooks all of the meats in-store as well.

Walking into the restaurant on a cold and cloudy October afternoon, the bright yellow walls with red and green accents (to match the Mexican flag) were a welcome relief from the dreary fall weather.

The restaurant is part of the downtown Kitchener revitalization. Several new restaurants have popped up in its vicinity on Duke St. – Nick Lachance, Photo Manager

Unpretentious in design, the restaurant is simply laid-out with ample seating and standing room — undoubtedly to accommodate the daily lunch rush.

At busy times, Allensen estimates that they serve an upwards of 150 burritos per day.

“On Fridays it’s closer to 250. When we first opened we said, ‘okay if we do 50 people per day we’ll be good’ and it’s pretty much tripled, so it’s exciting.”

The walk-up counter is indeed reminiscent of Subway, yet the menu, neatly-printed on an overhead chalkboard, offers more diverse and tantalizing options.

Diners can choose from a variety of meats, veggies, salsas and sauces served hot and fresh in a burrito, taco, quesadilla or salad.

Providing a delicious alternative to traditional fast food, customer Sarah Michaels, who works nearby, has made Holy Guacomole a lunchtime staple.

“Since the revitalization of Kitchener has moved to this end, we’ve gotten some of these great places like Holy Guacamole and I like coming here,” she said. “There’s great price, great food and it tastes fabulous.”

Many self-proclaimed regulars echoed her sentiments, pleased with the freshness and value of the food.

Relying only on Facebook and a website to market the restaurant, Holy Guacamole’s popularity has exploded due to word-of-mouth. Having already expanded to a larger storefront, Allensen is looking to open a second location in the future.

“Hopefully we will have a location in Waterloo,” said Allensen. “We’d like to have it within the next three years. Just like a bigger one where it’s sit-down and more of a we serve you, rather than this, which is really quick.”

Trying to perfect the first year of business, Allensen believes that good customer service is integral to their success. “I want people to walk in and see a friendly staff for starters because that’s what’s bring a lot of people back is seeing how happy we are.”

The staff’s passion for their product is clear, and Allensen hopes Holy Guacamole will continue doing what it does best: serving up speedy, friendly and delicious fresh Mexican food.

Holy Guacomole is located at 8 Duke St, Kitchener. For menu and hours, visit freshmex.ca