Unless you are “in the know” or have a keen eye, finding one of Wheaton’s longest-standing restaurants, , can be a challenge. Aside from a medium-blue awning with white text, there is little that catches the eye, little that beckons customers into the 23-year-old Salvadorean restaurant.
Omar Lazo and his brother Jason, who recently took over the day-to-day operations of Los Chorros from their parents, Pedro and Reina, realize that while they enjoy a loyal base of customers built up from years of word-of-mouth advertising, more is needed in this day and age.
“When my parents opened the restaurant, we were really the only Latin place in Wheaton,” Omar says. “But now, there are new places opening up all the time and we have to do a lot more.”
The younger Lazos have taken steps to improve the establishment’s website, including maps with directions and posting menus online for downloading. Omar mentioned that he often had to fax menus to local businesses several times a week. They’re in the process of building a more robust Facebook page, and taking advantage of group buying offers like Groupon and Living Social.
“My mom is very skeptical of some of these online opportunities,” Omar shared. “She’s scared that they’re scams, or that the company will oversell the deal, or that someone could hack it.” Omar has found the offerings easy to track and manage and believes that the results have been very positive. He believes that they will continue to use these group sites, except for one, Restaurant.com, which he found that people were able to abuse, and did not bring them any repeat business.
Increased “analog” advertising is also an important part of the younger generation’s strategy, especially in light of the ongoing redevelopment. “Having the tenants leaving the BB & T building has really hurt our lunch business, and I think the last people have to be out of there by June 16,” said Omar.
They are approaching the challenge from both sides. They have plans to update the fading awning, have already created a new logo and printed menu, and are stepping up their efforts to promote Los Chorros’ delivery service.
“Not having the lunch crowd from that building means that we need to grab more street traffic, and I want to get a new awning out there, one that will really tell people what we have to offer in here," Omar said.
The restaurant delivers in a four-mile radius, but will travel further for larger orders. Mentions of the delivery service appear on Los Chorros’ door, on the updated print menu and prominently on the website.
Omar believes that the redevelopment will be a challenge in the short-term, but beneficial in the long-term. “We’ve already seen new customers from the Metro Pointe apartments – we get calls from the new residents’ cell phones, which come up as from Texas and Arizona," he said.
Omar and the rest of the Lazos will have the chance to find out how beneficial the redevelopment is, recently renewing their lease through January of 2017.
“In the past we’ve usually done seven or eight-year leases, but in this economy, and with the redevelopment, we thought it better to be a bit more cautious.”
Patch readers that print out this article and being it into Los Chorros will receive a free flan dessert with purchase.
Los Chorros is located at 2420 Blueridge Avenue, Wheaton. (301) 933-1066
Open Mon-Thurs 11am-10:30pm, Fri 10:30am-12am, Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10:00-10:30pm.