Good Life Cafe owner Miguel Herrera
Miguel Herrera, owner of the Good Life Cafe in the Mammoth Mall, came to the United States as a teenager in 1985.
Miguel was the eldest child of a tight-knit family. His father, a teacher, didn’t think he’d last.
“He said I was so attached to the family, especially my mother, that I would not be able to stay away,” recalls Miguel. “He thought wrong. The first time I left, I didn’t return for nine years.”
And now, after years and years of working 14-16 hours/day, five days a week, Herrera now finds himself the owner of a very successful local business which has recently expanded to now serve dinner nightly.
Sheet: Are you still working the same hours?
Herrera: Yes, but now it’s my business. It’s exciting to see the results.”
Herrera attributes the restaurant’s success to consistency in service. “That’s what drives a business forward,” he says.
This consistency starts with the food preparation. Herrera’s cooks, on average, have worked at the Good Life for about 10 years. One has been there 18 years.
His new manager Sandy Graves has worked at the Good Life for five years.
Sheet: What’s the key to personnel management?
Herrera: I’m easygoing. They like me. As long as you do your job, we’re good.
Miguel and a pair of partners bought the Good Life back in 2004 from Randy Martin.
Herrera bought out his partners in 2008.
Dinners, say Herrera, are picking up. “From the first to the second month, we saw a 30% increase,” he says. Entrees go for about $15.
Though he plans future changes, the dinner menu is currently similar to the lunch menu. The Good Life offers Mexican and American cuisine. The best description: Comfort food. “There’s something for everyone,” says Herrera,
The youthful-looking Herrera is, amazingly, a grandfather. He has four children, two from a previous marriage. His current marriage of eight years to wife Patricia has yielded two children ages 2 and 6.
The Good Life Cafe is open every day of the year, holidays included, although Herrera acknowledged that might change slightly, in the near future anyway, now that he’s serving dinner.
“I think it might be nice to finally get a chance to celebrate some of those family holidays,” he said with a smile.