Mexican restaurant stands alone in serving liquor in Cortland

CORTLAND -- Although it's been open only a week, Potosino's Mexican Grille has become a very popular eatery.
No wonder: It's the only restaurant in Cortland that has a liquor permit.
"So far, so good," owner Juan Manuel Martinez said Tuesday of his restaurant near the intersection of state Routes 46 and 5.
Mayor Curt Moll said he has enjoyed the restaurant, noting it's a busy place.
Last November, voters approved liquor licenses for three areas, including one for Jerry Carleton Enterprises at the former McDonald's restaurant. Voters approved the issues by nearly a 2-1 margin.
The issues had the backing of Moll, who has said he views the city's becoming wet as a way to attract quality restaurants.
Potosino's is certainly wet, with offerings of domestic and Mexican beers and margaritas by the glass or half-pitcher.
Lunches range from $4 to $5, and combination dinners are $6.75. Prices for children are $3 to $3.75.
Went out on his own
Martinez has been a partner in Salsita's restaurant at Interstate 80 and Route 46 in Austintown since 2003. He managed to save some money and was looking to open his own restaurant.
Martinez said he was approached about three months ago by Carleton to select his building because the location had a liquor permit.
Martinez explained that he wanted to open a restaurant in Cortland because it's a good location, most of the city is dry, and the residents are more affluent.
"The liquor is the draw," said Martinez, who lives in Austintown but is looking to move closer to Cortland.
He and his wife, Bethany, are expecting their first child in March.
Martinez pointed out that those wanting alcohol with lunch or dinner don't have to drive to Howland or Warren anymore.
"Now we're close to the people. We want to be part of the community," he added. "We want to be here for many years."
Native of Mexico
It's been a long haul for the 32-year-old Martinez to come this far from Mexico.
Martinez came to this country in 1996 to visit his brother in Massillon. He decided to stay because he couldn't see himself getting ahead in Mexico.
Martinez explained that he was a manager in a Pilgrim's Pride facility that raised chickens for slaughter, and managed the egg incubator division. Although it was good work, Martinez said he couldn't become a company executive to advance himself.
So, he got a job busing tables at a Massillon restaurant.
"After a few months, I became a waiter. That's how I learned the business," he said, noting he used that ability to become a partner at Salsita's.
Martinez's family remains in Mexico. He visits them four times a year and sends them money. His mother is being treated for cancer.
"If you have money, you survive," Martinez said of his homeland.

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