On the Line: George Mendoza & Gabriel Ruiz Of Wursthaus, Part One

George and Gabriel be stylin' for the camera
George and Gabriel be stylin' for the camera
Photo by LP Hastings

It's been a while since I featured a duo in the interviews. Friends George Mendoza and Gabriel Ruiz co-own Wursthaus (along with Gabriel's wife, Georgiana). A simple, yet effective concept, sausages and German beer have found their home in downtown Santa Ana. They opted to respond to every question, giving us some typing practice.

How do you describe your place to someone unfamiliar? George Mendoza: Sausages, beer and a fun, upbeat atmosphere. Gabriel Ruiz: With a modern, industrial decor.

Most frequently asked question: GR: "Is there somewhere to eat our food?" Yes. We have a restaurant and bar in the back. GM: (response to same question) Behind the counter and kitchen.

What were the challenges to opening a storefront? How did you overcome them? GR: City permitting and capital to fund our project. We never did; it was a constant battle. GM: Getting past the fear of failure. Overcame it by believing in my vision.

What's the one thing people didn't tell you about opening a restaurant? GR: I didn't ask. GM: That there'd be so much office paperwork.

You're making breakfast; what are you having? GM: Spinach omelette. GR: Yogurt.

Favorite places to eat (besides your own). GM: Bestia (LA), K24 (Hollywood), Bottega Louie (LA). GR: Chapter One and PF Chang's.

One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true. GR: "Living there" for its success is necessary. No, it's not. GM: Employees you once supported will easily turn on you, steal from you and sue you. This is only true if you hire the wrong people. My street smarts will protect me from that.

What do you recommend for first-time restaurant owners? GM: Make sure it's passion-driven, and have a realistic budget. GR: Be well-funded, with capital to open for several months.

Any plans to expand? GR: Absolutely.

How did the name come about? GM: We are a sausage restaurant in a cool haus (building). That's Wursthaus in German.

Where was your most recent meal? GR: Stockyard at 4th Street Market. I had their tuna melt. GM: At Bestia LA; a kale salad.

Favorite meal growing up: GM: Filet-o-Fish sandwich from McDonald's GR: My nanny used to make me poached eggs in a cup with lemon, salt and pepper. I have great memories of this dish.

What are your best selling items? GR: Spicy Polish sausage, Belgian fries with chipotle aioli and Belgian Trubadour IPA. GM: Belgian fries and a St. Bernardus bier.

What would be your last meal on Earth? GM: My last meal would have to be an amazing pizza in New York. GR: Filet mignon with a garlic butter sauce, mashed potatoes, asparagus and a Wittekerke bier.

Wursthaus is located at 305 E 4th St, Ste 106 in Santa Ana, (714) 760-4333; www.wursthausdtsa.com.

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