When it comes to starting a new business in Puerto Vallarta, a little research goes a long way. And if timing is, indeed, everything, owners, Rita and Willy Nuño couldn’t have played their cards any better.
(This article was commissioned by Gay Entertainment Directory, and it first appeared in their January 2019 edition.)
Raised in Southern California by Mexican parents, Willy’s association with Puerto Vallarta goes back to the 1980s, when he began visiting relatives in Guadalajara and also spending time in their Puerto Vallarta condo. It was also around this time that he and Rita met and began dating. Fast forward to 2010. The Nuños were living in Seattle and were about to open a Mexican restaurant when the opportunity to purchase the Puerto Vallarta family condo opened up, opening up a new life path to pursue. With an average of only 152 sunny days per year in Seattle, they both missed the California sun, so the possibility of moving to a tropical environment and starting up a business seemed extremely appealing. Rita and Willy packed up their belongings and moved to Puerto Vallarta in October, 2010.
Upon arrival, they began considering their options. A Mexican restaurant might have made much sense in northwestern United States, but not in Puerto Vallarta, where the niche is understandably saturated. Being avid yoga practitioners, a healthy lifestyle was already an integral part of their lives, so the decision to open a health food restaurant was somewhat of an epiphany: “We would come out of yoga class craving a smoothie or a healthy snack, with not a single place in the neighborhood to find one one,” recalls Wally.
This notion, combined with a fair amount of research indicated the path they would pursue. One year and two months after arriving, Salud Super Food opened its doors to the public for the first time on December 18, 2011 to great success from day one.
Located on the street level of an apartment building on Olas Altas St., one of the most popular in the gayborhood, Salud Super Food is rather small and unassuming. Upon entering the restaurant, however, one can’t help but to feel welcome and at ease with its casual decor and informal seating—barely enough for about 15 guests. An additional shaded seating area on the sidewalk is perfect for people watching. There are popular healthy cookbooks available to peruse while you are enjoying your meal, and a small but carefully selected choice of health food supplements is available for purchase, along with t-shirts and other mementos.
For a restaurant this small, the menu is delightfully extensive, with an ample selection of super smoothies, wraps, salads, burgers and bowl food. And while the menu features omnivore choices, most of their offerings are available in vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options.
Other successful business owners might be tempted to expand their operation in search for better profits, but not the Nuños. As they enter their eight year in business, very little has changed about the restaurant, with only a few menu revisions or additions made every season. “Balancing our work lives and personal lives is essential for our continued success,” comments Rita. The couple will be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this month.
As true supporters of the community in general, and the gay community in particular, it’s not uncommon to enter Salud Super Food and seeing a sizeable number of posters promoting local and visiting acts performing at one of the neighborhood’s venues—the closest one, The Palm Cabaret and Bar, is next door—so along with a great meal, it’s easy to get a good recommendation, should you be interested in exploring the city’s thriving performing arts scene, attracting many performers you’d be likely to enjoy at important gay destinations in the US, such as Provincetown or Ogunquit.
When asked for advice for anyone considering a life change in 2019 similar to the one they pursued in 2010, they are quick to offer invaluable suggestions: “Having a plan and doing some market research will keep you from becoming distracted,” comments Rita. “This is, after all, a wonderful vacation destination, and it is quite easy to lose momentum.” Rita also mentions the importance of learning Spanish as a top priority. “We were fortunate to be bicultural before we moved to Puerto Vallarta. But for many English-speaking entrepreneurs wanting to make a life and career change in Mexico, not learning the language can become a major disadvantage in the long run.”
Salud Super Food is located at Olas Altas 534A, in Colonia Emiliano Zapata. They are open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday. Find them on Facebook as “salud super food.”
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