New Owners of Viva Rancho Cantina Site to Open Restaurant Serving Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Celia's Rancho Restaurante is the name of the new restaurant which is replacing Viva! (Photo by Ross A Benson)

The new owners of the location that previously housed Viva Rancho Cantina plan to bring a welcoming restaurant offering authentic Mexican cuisine to the city.  

Alonso Arellano and his wife, Elsa Arellano, have been in the food and beverage industry for 20 years and recently purchased the building at 900 W Riverside Dr. The site is presently undergoing renovations, although the general structure of the building will remain the same.

The Arellano family currently owns two other Los Angeles restaurants called Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico. This new Burbank dining experience will have a different name to be revealed at a later date.

Both Alonso and Elsa are immigrants, as Alonso is originally from Mexico and Elsa hails from El Salvador. During their early years in the United States, the Arellanos found themselves becoming progressively more distant from their heritage, which inspired them to create a business paying homage to their roots. As Alonso’s extended family members have experience in business, he decided a restaurant project would be the strongest fit for their venture. 

“We felt this urge, this need to get back into our culture,” Alonso said. “So we decided the best way to do it was to open a Mexican restaurant.”

As a graduate of UCLA’s BioMedical Physics program, Alonso works with Kaiser Permanente four days a week while managing the family’s restaurant locations, a bakery and tortilla factory. His passion for health has gone hand in hand with his love of serving fresh meals to customers, which he hopes to continue to do in Burbank.

“I realized that in actuality, I was not living parallel lives with my health profession and my restaurant food business,” Alonso said. “I realized I can help more people maintain the good health that they have right now with the food that we provide in our restaurant than the number of people that I help individually in the hospital.”

The Arellano’s Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico dining spots both follow traditional recipes and only use fresh meat, produce, and other ingredients. One of these locations serves Southern Mexican cuisine, while another focuses its menu on coastal Mexican seafood meals. The new restaurant in Burbank will provide a mix of Southern and coastal Mexican cuisine, and will additionally expand into preparing food items inspired by other regions of Mexico.

New owners of the site that was previously Viva Rancho Cantina, Elsa (fifth from left), and Alonso Arellano (far right) with their six children. (photo courtesy of Alonso Arellano)

“We’re still going to take the same perspective of looking at the ancestors’ recipes and trying to make them and a better way such that we can keep them as healthy as possible,” Arellano said of the new Burbank restaurant menu. “We’re not going to be using cans or jars as our source of ingredients. We source out actual produce and fresh meat, and we don’t prepare things ahead of time.”

The Arellanos will open the Burbank location with two kickoff phases. Within the next 30 days, the front patio and first dining room will open, which is to be followed by a second phase of a larger dining room and back patio opening in the early months of 2022.

Live music acts were a strong attraction for visitors to the Viva Rancho Cantina over the years of its existence. Alonso is a music fan who keeps his heritage alive through listening to Spanish music, and says this restaurant will include some degree of either live or pre-recorded music to contribute to a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. 

“I love music,” Alonso said. “Music to us is more of an ambience creator that gives way for people to get together, enjoy the dinner and have a conversation at their table. I believe that food and sharing food among friends and family is probably the only way that we can get people to put down their cell phones and pay attention to each other. And for that reason, we will have music, and we could have live music as well.”

For the Arellanos, sharing their cultural roots through creating traditional, delicious meals for customers is a labor of love. As they prepare to open this new business location, Alonso says they will prioritize making visitors feel at home while enjoying their meals. This will include implementing a large community table inside the restaurant where various restaurant goers can intermix with one another. In addition, before the official opening, Alonso will host a small community get-together to become better acquainted with Burbank locals.

“Mexican food is so vast. Mexico and different regions [take] different perspectives as to how to cook and create the food. But they all say one thing in common: they make it with lots of passion and love because they know that they will feed their families,” Alonso said. “We carry that same passion and love…with our creation because we know that it is feeding our family and any guest in our restaurant. It’s like they’re coming to our home. So we want to treat [visitors] to the best that we have.”

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