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Meet the owner behind this new Puerto Rican restaurant in Citrus Heights

Bella Luz stands inside her restaurant, El Boritracho, in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

Updated June 6, 1:43 p.m.–
By Mike Hazlip— Business owner Bella Luz was born in Honduras and immigrated to the United States in 2015. Initially starting as a dishwasher, she’s now opened her own business in Citrus Heights with the help of a business partner.

El Boritracho offers a combination of flavors from Puerto Rico, Honduras, and El Salvador, and occupies a space formerly home to Alonzo’s Pizza Depot.

In a May 24 interview, translator Ray Cardoza told The Sentinel he helps with business administration, while Luz does all the cooking.

Luz said she came to the United States out of necessity and for work. After a few years in the kitchen, she wanted to be more involved in making the meals.

“I said, I didn’t come here to be a dishwasher, I don’t belong here. I belong behind that stove,” Luz told The Sentinel. Eventually, she became assistant cook, then worked her way up to restaurant manager.

“I came from the bottom,” she said.

Luz was working two jobs when the opportunity to open El Boritracho came up, Cardoza said.

El Boritracho serves what Cardoza called a “fusion” of different Central American dishes and uses more bananas and flour-based dishes than traditional Mexican food. The restaurant’s menu includes salads, appetizers, lunch and dinner plates. Prices range from about $8 for an appetizer to $25 for the “El Boritracho,” a combination plate with pork, chicken, shrimp, rice and beans, and a salad.

The restaurant also serves pupusa, a traditional El Salvadorian staple made with a thick corn flatbread and stuffed with beans and cheese, or various types of meat.

Luz said she’s seen a positive response after only a few days of being open. The restaurant has already garnered 28 reviews on Google, giving El Boritracho a five-star rating.

With rising construction costs and permit requirements, opening the business was a difficult process, Cardoza said.

“Construction has been difficult because she had to change a couple of things here and it was difficult to get somebody in to get it done,” Cardoza said. “Materials went up, everything went up so it was really a painful experience for her, I can tell you that.”

Despite the challenges, Luz is optimistic, saying: “Nothing is impossible.”

Luz said she would like to expand with other locations, citing the lack of diversity in the local cuisine. El Boritracho joins Naija Cuisine, Yummy Tummy, Yalla Yalla, and Falafel Corner in offering Citrus Heights diners a diverse range of cultural foods.

Cardoza said some of the wall decor from Alonzo’s Pizza Depot is still in place as a way to keep the nostalgia alive. Eventually though, he said the business will remodel the interior.

Cardoza said Luz is proud of her accomplishments and her hard work.

“She works hard,” Cardoza said. “[When] the opportunity showed itself, she took it. She grabbed the bull by the horns.”

El Boritracho is located at 7054 Sunrise Blvd and is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the restaurant’s Yelp page. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

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