March 4, 2021

Business Spotlight: El Habanero

Rey and his mother Veronica

Jems Mendez has always liked working in the food industry. One of the main reasons is that he really enjoys interacting with the customers he meets.

Jems worked in his family business in Mexico starting in 1983 until he decided he wanted to open his own business. He opened his first restaurant in 1991 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The restaurant, “Jack & Jems” in Mexico, is still in business today. It is currently being managed by his older brother.

He moved to Utah in 1996 and worked for a few different Mexican restaurants, still with the dream of opening his own restaurant again. Jems and his wife, Veronica, opened El Habanero in 2000. They offer a number of Yucatan specialties, including the popular Cochinita Pibil, a sweet pork dish wrapped in banana leaves. Their mouthwatering traditional Mexican food is what people come for and has made them a favorite of the local community.

Jems’ advice to entrepreneurs starting their own business is “work hard and [have] perseverance in whatever they want to do.” 


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