How it all began...
When an opportunity presents itself, you just have to seize it.
Chef Daniel Viorato was looking for a new restaurant where his unique style of cooking could be featured. The recently closed down Mission Restaurant was available, so he approached Erin Pelayo about it. He wanted to make his mark as a chef, but he knew he needed Erin’s expertise as a restaurateur to make that happen. After a lot of thought, Erin, with the encouragement of her daughter, Gabby, realized the empty Mission Restaurant had a fantastic location with huge potential to be successful. It was a truly a leap of faith for both of them as the unique opportunity was seized and Chula’s Restaurant and Cantina was born.
After doing an extensive remodel of the interior including ripping out all of the walls, installing new plumbing, new HVAC, a ton of electrical rewiring, plus giving the building a new coat of paint (we love our bright exterior), all in just seven weeks allowed Chula’s to open in October of 2015.
Offering a simple menu of flavorful comfort food, we waited for our customers to come in and give us their reviews. Chula’s was a hit!
Meet our Chefs
English: I was born in Chacalilla, Nayarit, but I didn’t learn to cook until I moved to the United States. When I was 17-years-old I started working at a restaurant as a dishwasher. After two years my employers gave me the opportunity to start working as a cook. I was passionate about food and all the different ways I could bring a simple dish to make it delicious. This is how I learned how to cook. A few years later, I decided to talk to my boss, Erin Pelayo, at the restaurant I worked called Chapala Mexican Restaurant. When I saw that the restaurant The Mission was for lease I approached Erin and told her “I just want someone to take a chance on me because I have so much creativity and so many ideas.” Erin took the chance and invested her money to open Chula’s Restaurant and Cantina. Before Chapala I worked at many different types of restaurants. American, Thai, Chinese. I wanted to learn how to incorporate all different flavors and by working under many chefs it allowed me to experiment. My favorite dishes are chile rellenos and chicken taquitos topped with salsa and sour cream. However, what I enjoy cooking the most at home are enchiladas, street tacos and taquitos.
English: I was born in Tecalitlan, Jalisco. Growing up I had 10 siblings. My mom was always cooking and I liked to watch her and all my aunts cook. When I was 25-years-old I started working at a restaurant in Eugene, OR. I worked for one restaurant for over ten years. Daniel and I worked together for several years and he approached me and asked if I would be interested in working with him at Chula’s. Working in so many restaurants has helped me develop my cooking skills. Once it was just Daniel and I creating new dishes, I could bring my experiences and unite them with Daniel’s. I love the feedback we get from customers and I am trying new ideas all the time. My favorite dish is chicken enchiladas. I really enjoy my house enchiladas, which consists of chicken enchiladas topped with red sauce, lettuce and sour cream. I like them so much that I can eat ten on one sitting. However, my family loves it when I make “Birria de pollo.”
The food here is very authentic. We have been searching for a good Mexican food restaurant for years here in Eugene and finally! They have a good selection of craft beer too. Great vibe-y atmosphere. This is our new favorite place to eat when we come up to visit.