Former Bartenders Take Over Popular Saratoga Restaurant
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Mexican Connection, a staple in the Saratoga community for more than 25 years, is under new ownership. Sold to Brad Smith and Joe Parisi, both of whom were former bartenders at the restaurant; the co-owners are working toward updating Mexican Connection, while keeping the identity it’s known for.
“We’re not trying to create a new identity for Mexican Connection…we’re trying to bring a freshness in here because it has been around for over 25 years,” said Parisi. “So many things have changed in the food industry and with restaurants these days. We’re trying to make a new atmosphere, try to liven it up a little bit and get more of a younger crowd in here while keeping our regular customers at the same time.”
Smith and Parisi, two years apart in age and childhood friends, say Mexican Connection is where they started their careers. Both bartended at the restaurant for more than four years in the early 2000’s before leaving to gain more work experience.
After returning to the Saratoga area and starting families, the two friends were ready to take the leap into becoming restauranteurs. Smith and Parisi purchased Mexican Connection from Jason Friedman in July of 2014.
“We both grew up bartending here through our formative years; we were spending time learning about the tequila, learning how to make the drinks here and learning about the clientele,” said Smith. “Both of us knew we wanted to go out into the world and get some experience…Joe going to St. Thomas and myself going to Las Vegas…we had thought about a couple of other different businesses, but we kept coming back to this one.”
Now that they’re back, Smith and Parisi have rolled up their sleeves and are working like old times. Smith says he works the front of the house while Parisi handles the kitchen.
“We kept the menu but I play around with the specials,” said Parisi. “I try to make the specials a little more authentic – Mexican street tacos and soups…we also offer chilaquiles and tamales. We do have food that appeals to everybody as well as traditional, authentic Mexican cuisine.”
The restaurant’s bar continues to feature over 150 premium sipping tequilas, a wide selection of Mexican beer and hand-shaken margaritas.
In the last nine months the co-owners have updated the décor and the seating area of the restaurant, as well as the playlist. They’ve also opened Mexican Connection on Monday evenings from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and have an all-night happy hour.
Mexican Connection’s happy hours have been so popular that Smith and Parisi have extended them. Aside from Monday, happy hours from Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday are from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.; happy hour on Friday and Saturday is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The restaurant will partner with Zuppler, a food delivery service, this spring. In the meantime, Smith and Parisi are preparing for Mexican Connection’s Cinco de Mayo festivities. The restaurant will have a three-day celebration featuring live music and food and drink specials.
“People have a vested interest in this place and to see two owners genuinely caring and putting everything into it is getting them excited and rejuvenated to come back into Mexican Connection,” said Smith.
Mexican Connection is located at 41 Nelson Ave in Saratoga Springs. Business hours are Monday-Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit mexconx.com.