Friday, January 15, 2010

A New Cowboy in Town

The following was published in The Floyd Press on January 3, 2008.

You know the saying ‘everything under the sun?’ Now you can get Mexican food there. A new restaurant called El Charro recently opened in the lower level of the Winter Sun building on Locust Street in downtown Floyd.

El Charro means “the cowboy” in Spanish, said Malena, wife of one of the new restaurant owners. She pointed out a large sombrero on the terra cotta wall to my husband and me while describing the traditional dress of a Mexican cowboy. Her father was a cattle raising cowboy, she told us as she wrote down our lunch order.

The restaurant is a family business, owned and operated by two brothers, a cousin, and their families. The extended family lives in Galax and has one other restaurant in Radford, Malena explained.

“You’re all going to love Floyd and want to move here,” I joked to her. She motioned to her daughter who was cleaning off a nearby table and explained that her daughter wouldn’t want to change schools or move away from her friends.

From our comfortable booth by a big picture window, my husband and I watched Christmas shoppers stroll up and down the tiled hallway just outside the restaurant. The hallway and restaurant décor continues the South American theme that began with the first shop in the building, the one that bears its name – Winter Sun – an outlet featuring clothing hand painted in Ecuador.

I don’t remember what my husband ordered because I was happy with my own meal – grilled chicken fajitas, sautéed onions and peppers, guacamole, salsa, and beans – and so I was not tempted by his. It was a few days before Christmas and the atmosphere was festive. A family of about fifteen was celebrating together at a group of tables that had been put together to make one long one. Many of them had arrived carrying stacks of wrapped gifts, which they deposited in a pile nearby.

El Charro is the newest establishment in the building that once housed a textile factory before it was purchased and renovated by Winter Sun clothing store owner, Anga Miller. Other shops in the recently remodeled downstairs include The Craft Cottage, which sells homemade candles and soaps; Art Under the Sun, a Floyd Artist Association's working gallery; Studio One, which offers art instruction to students of all ages; Wildfire Pottery; and the Anderson Gallery and Press. Upstairs is home to Café Del Sol; Winter Sun clothing store; and Winter Sun Hall, where performance art, dances, and concerts take place.

“This is about as close as Floyd gets to a Mall,” I said to my husband, impressed that everything in the building was so inviting, conveniently located, and locally owned. Looking out the restaurant window and waving to a friend, I added, “And the food here gets my four stars.”

Originally posted on on December 31, 2007.

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