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Nelly's House

After Nearly 20 Years, Paloma Blanca’s Vice President Knows How To Run The Show

Written by: Rachel Coon
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Nelly's House

When you sit down at a restaurant, you don’t usually think about what it takes to run the place because you’re too busy thinking about drinks and appetizers. But who builds the menu? Who hires the bartenders? Who selects the art and designs a place you’ll want to return to again and again? At Paloma Blanca, that behind-the-scenes mastermind is Vice President and General Manager Nelly Mendoza.

While Nelly would be the first to tell you she could never do her job without her incredible chefs and staff, Nelly’s been with the restaurant almost since its inception 20 years ago and has certainly made her mark on the popular Alamo Heights Mexican eatery. The native of southern Mexico was 17 years old and brand new to San Antonio when she started at Paloma Blanca just six months after it opened its doors. “I would go to school during the day, then I needed to practice my English so I got a part-time job at night as a hostess. I don’t know what happened,” Nelly laughs. “It wasn’t really part of my plan, but I’m still here!”

Paloma Blanca Vice President and General Manager Nelly Mendoza

Within her first year, Nelly started doing a bit of accounting and administrative paperwork for the restaurant. She also started working in the front of the house, learning every aspect of the business. She eventually moved up the ranks to floor manager and then general manager, a role she took on around the time Paloma opened at its current location on Broadway about 12 years ago. “I learn very quickly and management came easily to me,” Nelly says. These days, Paloma is truly hers—regulars have become her friends and the staff is her family.

Working closely with owner Richard Peacock, Nelly has created a warm and welcoming establishment with cuisine and ambience that are not quite upscale but are definitely a notch above casual. Paloma Blanca prides itself in clean, straightforward, authentic Mexican cuisine. No matter the dish, everything is made fresh from scratch every day with the highest quality ingredients. Paloma Blanca also happens to be one of the only—if not the only—Mexican restaurants in San Antonio that offers gluten-free and paleo options. “Our food is clean,” Nelly says. “I grew up in Mexico, and that’s the way we made food—very clean. It doesn’t have to be greasy or fattening.” The restaurant even offers a drive-through, a recent feature becoming increasingly popular.

Paloma Blanca brings authentic Mexican cuisine to Alamo Heights.

But where Nelly has seen even more growth is in Paloma Blanca’s events and off-site catering business. The venue actually offers three beautifully detailed and perfectly comfortable private rooms, each of which can accommodate up to 55 guests for wedding rehearsal dinners, small receptions, and other special celebrations. And what started as small off-site catering jobs at local homes has grown into catering for huge weddings at big venues. “I love that part of the business,” Nelly says. “We can do everything, the whole package—the food, tables, linens, flowers. We can be a one-stop shop if couples want us to be.”

As Paloma Blanca continues to exceed expectations, Nelly couldn’t love her job more. “I’m a people person. I love talking to people. I love making them happy. I love hearing how much they love our restaurant and our food. And I like the fact that we bring a piece of Mexico to Alamo Heights.”

 

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