RIVERSIDE — Karen Cabrera and her husband decided opening a restaurant was such a crazy idea they named their restaurant after the sentiment. The pair are the owners of La Chiva Loka, a new restaurant opening in Riverside on Wednesday, April 24.
Cabrera explained their last name in Spanish means goat herder, so when naming their restaurant they chose the Spanish word for goat, chiva, and the word for crazy, loka, because they felt like they were crazy to try. However, she said after careful thought, opening a restaurant just made sense for them.
“I felt like the town needed something,” she said of deciding to open the space in the former Icehouse building.
She said it was her husband’s dream to own a restaurant although neither of them had ever owned one before. However, Cabrera grew up in the restaurant business, as her mom used to own the Downtowner in West Liberty.
“He’s a really great cook and it was his dream to own a restaurant, so I felt like I had to support him,” she said.
They will serve both Mexican and American food with a modern twist. Cabrera explained they will still have traditional dishes like enchiladas and burritos, but will add their own flair to the items. One of her favorite dishes on the menu is the Chiva Taco, which is her husband’s secret recipe.
She said she is excited to bring new recipes into the restaurant and introduce people to new kinds of authentic food because she feels it important to celebrate other cultures.
“I feel like they need to know,” she said. “I lived in Mexico for a while, so I know the food is so good, so I just want other people to be able to try it.”
Construction on the building has been happening for a couple of months to bring the restaurant up to their standards. She said they expanded the kitchen for volume so they are able to serve more customers. They will offer both indoor and outdoor seating.
Cabrera said she is nervous for the grand opening, but confident in her staff that they will provide quality service and food that people will want to return to enjoy.
“I just really want good service and the people to be happy and of course I want them to come back,” she said with a laugh. “I really want it to be a great place for people to have fun and to enjoy.”
La Chiva Loka will be open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.; Friday from 11 a.m. until midnight; Saturday from 7 a.m. until midnight; and Sunday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. They are located at 70 W. First Street in Riverside.