It doesn’t take long to get a grasp of Andres Marquez’s enthusiasm for contributing to the greater good of society – and tequila. Here’s how both drove him to open Toronto’s beloved Mexican hot spot Fonda Lola and where he sees himself in five years…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m one of three owners of Fonda Lola, a funky Mexican bistro at Queen and Shaw that serves modernist Mexican cuisine using ethically and locally sourced ingredients. I also lead our cocktail program, which I like to call #healthyboozin (we use wholesome ingredients like house-made kombucha, lime kefir, pure maple syrup, coconut water, fresh squeezed citrus and tequilas aged in house).
In a nutshell: I’m an ambassador of my culture and I drink tequila for a living.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I’ve worked in Mexican restaurants for many years and I wanted to show Mexican cuisine in a different light, beyond fish tacos and enchiladas, in a way that my great aunt Lola would be proud of. At the same time I wanted to rebuild karma through charitable work and use my purchasing power to buy sustainable products.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I get my exercise every day and I get to go to work with a smile. I love being able to share my life and passion with our amigos y amigas .
The most challenging part is finding time to create a life outside of Fonda Lola.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
At one point I couldn’t remember the last time I had said ‘I love you’ to someone I cared for. I became so submerged in my projects and a very simple and debaucherous life took over. I’m happy to be enjoying life differently now.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Semi-retired, I hope. Maybe with a wife and a kid? Definitely with a cat or dog. F*ck the picket fence. Seriously, in five years I hope to be working away at a few projects, spreading the goodwill of Mexican food and drinks, with tequila and yoga in the background.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Stupidly deciding to do all the renovations of the restaurant myself. There was a lot of failure before the success came, but bouncing back from it all is the trick. I overcame the failure by believing in who I am and what I stand for – what the restaurant would stand for.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Living the dream is success to me. Making money for drinking tequila with wonderful Torontonians and eating delicious food is pretty OK in my book.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Every time I see a person’s reaction of enjoyment at Fonda Lola is a milestone for me. Sharing the experience of a warm taco or a robust reposado with a guest is priceless.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
1. Always ask if they are married.
2. It’s stupid to ask for dressing on the side.
3. Buy a onesie
4. Find that dream or idea that keeps you awake at night. Nurture and develop it. Then get organized, put it all on paper, and make a plan to make it real.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I eat at Bolt every day and I love Charlie’s Burgers – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every single time. Also, Bartons for snacks, Grand Electric for tacos, and Parts and Labour for burgers.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I am very active and I channel a lot of energy through yoga, reading and cooking, But the best way to unwind for me is cooking and creating tasty and healthy cocktails at home or at work.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
The obvious answer is Mexico. I know way more about my country than the average Mexican and I love showing my country to others. It is a magical landscape with unique people and unlimited options for eating amazing food. And yes, it’s safe… but don’t drink the water.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Short Change Hero by The Heavy
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Either a stay-at-home husband or a spy.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Fonda Lola donates food and labour to as many initiatives as we can, usually at least one major charitable function per month. The last event was a fundraiser for the Three To Be foundation (shout out!). My personal belief is that I have been blessed and it’s only fair to give back as much as I have received from society.
What to you is notable?
Notable is the new generation of consumers, thinkers and the makers of a new economy – educated young people who can use their purchasing power to make a difference in ways that matter to them but also contribute to the greater good of society.
BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone for la vida loca and BlackBerry for text reservations at Fonda Lola.