Restaurateurs Luis and Heidi Ortiz are bringing a new Mexican eating place to Perham.

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The couple plans to open the former Los Jalapenos Restaurant on Second Avenue SE before the end of August. Los Jalapenos closed in May, shortly after the Los Jalapenos in Wadena closed.

Heidi said the Perham restaurant will fit neatly into their growing business, which includes places in Thief River Falls and Becker.

"We're right in the middle," Heidi laughed.

They are calling their new restaurant Las Ranitas which Heidi indicated is Spanish for "The Little Frog" - a fairly good name for a community where turtles are so popular.

"My husband and I were listening to music one night and we heard that, and we just thought, 'that's going to be our name.'" Heidi said.

Jorge Galban has been hired to manage the Perham restaurant. Luis said the 25-year-old has worked with him in the business for a number of years.

"He started working with me with he was 17 years old," Luis said.

Luis has 12 years of experience in preparing Mexican dishes. He has been a restaurant owner for four of those years.

How did the couple decide Perham was a good spot for their third restaurant?

"I used to be the main cook in Thief River Falls," Luis said. "A lot of people from Perham, who went to tournaments there, used to eat there and they told me, 'Hey, you should open a Mexican Restaurant in Perham, we need a Mexican Restaurant in Perham.'"

In addition to the food and drink, they plan to offer at least once a year an entertainment idea which has proven popular in Thief River Falls - a live band performing Mariachi music.

Luis has found it a good practice to serve Mexican dishes without a lot of spices, even though he can make it spicy for those who prefer it that way.

"We do have hot sauce if people require that, but normally it's just mild stuff," he said.