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Fernandez works at new family restaurant

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Marco Aramburu

Senior Lylia Fernandez stands outside Kiko’s with one of their signature carne asada burritos.

Families live together, laugh together and occasionally even fight, although it is not often you find a family that works together. Senior Lylia Fernandez, as well as her younger brother sophomore Santiago Fernandez, work at their father’s local restaurant, Kiko’s.
Opening a restaurant was a long time dream of the Fernandez family, but were unable due to being preoccupied with commitments to their previous full time jobs, Lylia’s father doing work for his Mobile App development studio, Clutch Studios, and her uncle working at a car dealership. The Fernandez family didn’t own the lot for Kiko’s up until a month before Lylia’s father and uncle quit their previous jobs.
“My Dad and Uncle were definitely clashing on what they wanted to do, and where they wanted to work,” Lylia said. “They finally got the opportunity to take some time off of work, and actually figure out a plan on what they wanted to do with this restaurant. Luckily they were able to switch jobs fairly easily once they had finalized a business plan for their restaurant.”
The Fernandez family specializes in their carne asada, the English equivalent of a type of roast. As a result, Kiko’s menu is condensed, maintaining the consistency and ensuring the quality of the food.
“We serve burritos, tacos, fries, quesadillas. Our specialty is Carne asada, so we try to put out the best quality steak as we can,” Lylia said. “We’ve also been doing carnitas on Sundays, which is pork rather than steak.”
Both Lylia and Santiago have been working at Kiko’s since its opening in December 2018. The pair of siblings are not confined to the kitchen, instead taking orders and serving food in the front of the house.
“Me and Santi take orders, get people what they want or need,” Lylia said. “We also make sure the people in the kitchen are making the food correctly, and that the orders match what the customer ordered.”
Lylia finds little stress in working in such close proximity with her family all day, seeing it more as a chance to bond and grow closer. She said she finds connecting with her family easier than a random coworker, as she has known them her entire life.
“We try to help each other out as much as possible, but of course we do make mistakes,” Lylia said. “When that happens, we try to correct them as soon as possible. We’re sort of hard on each other sometimes, but that’s because we hold each other to a high standard, so we can be sure to satisfy our customers.”
Santiago has found working with his sister to be a calming experience and because of that has felt satisfied with working at Kiko’s.
“When Lylia is working, she’s really courteous, and tries to be as polite as she can be. She handles the pressure of big rushes very well and is really calm.” Santiago said. “I’m pretty calm too, but it’s nice to know I can rely on my sister if I need extra help or something.”
Despite not even having been open for a year, Kiko’s has shown to be quite the hot-spot for locals, drawing in people from all over Newton, including students and faculty from NHS. Santiago has found this to be very fulfilling and satisfying.
“One of my favorite things about working at Kiko’s is probably hearing all the good things about it, and that all my friends really like it.” Santiago said. “I take pride in knowing that it’s my family behind this restaurant that a lot of people like, and come to”
Santiago and Lylia both agree that they’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to work, and bond with their family at Kiko’s, and they attribute their ability to work so well together to them being as close of a family as they are. The Fernandez family also took inspiration from family in the process of naming their restaurant.
“We named the restaurant after my Great Grandpa, his real name is Francisco, but we all call him Grandpa Kiko. He’s about 93 years old,” Lylia said. “He too also opened up a restaurant about 50 years ago, called Chico’s Mexican restaurant, in Wichita, and to sort of honor that, we use some of the same recipes he did, like with our rice and beans.”