The Story BeginsThe story of Rancho de Tia Rosa begins around the turn of 20th century. Rosa Evans (Dennis Sirrine's Grandmother) was living in Colonial Juarez Mexico along with her Mother, her Stepmother, her Father and 24 siblings. She remembers Poncho Villa riding into town one day and saying "Leave Mexico or die!". With no place to go, the family journeyed north across Mexico, settling into the small town of Tucson, Arizona. It was here that Rosa spent most of her youth. She later married and raised a family there. But she never forgot her Mexican homeland or her love for it's food.
Dennis Sirrine grew up in town of Mesa, Arizona, and visited his Grandmother Rosa in Tucson many times over the years of his youth. She would take him to all the best Mexican restaurants in the Tucson area. They would take trips to Mexico to explore the cuisine along the Baja Coast. She also prepared her own great Mexican dishes when he came to visit her. She was the inspiration for his love of Mexican food. Through his Grandmother, Dennis learned to appreciate great Mexican food, prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables, top quality meats, fish and chiles.
During the early 70's, Dennis Sirrine met his wife, Lizabeth, and after a two-year courtship, they were married. Both enjoyed cooking very much and decided to take two years of culinary courses from a great chef in the Phoenix area. After their training and certification, they cooked off and on for small parties and weddings and did some catering. But it wasn't until the late 80's, while living in San Diego, that they got serious about cooking and really serious about opening a restaurant.
They toured Mexico on many occasions during their stay in San Diego and researched hundreds of cookbooks and articles on the subject. They interviewed other cooks and chefs during their travels thru Mexico and spent countless hours perfecting their recipes. They even spent one whole year taste testing their recipes with friends and relatives to make sure their food was perfect. And it was after this exhausting period of time that Dennis and Liz finally opened their first restaurant; Rosa's Mexican Grill.
The First Rosa'sThe restaurant opened on July 29, 1991 in a rundown strip mall just on the outskirts of downtown Mesa. It started out as a little 900 square-foot restaurant that sat about 20 people and did mostly take out. They hired 6 employees, but still spent 16 hours a day, 7 days a week just to survive the first few years. But over time, they expanded the restaurant four times, added 160 seats and now employed 60 people to create a fun Mexican restaurant that was extremely popular and busy. It was during this time that the Sirrines were given many awards for their food and had numerous rave reviews bestowed upon them.
But the rundown location and the limitations on the kitchen made it impossible to create the food and ambience that Dennis and Liz really wanted. After years of searching, they finally found 4 acres of undeveloped land (actually it had been used for 30 years for grazing horses) in northeast Mesa they thought was the perfect place to build their dream restaurant. So in March of 1999, the Sirrines sold Rosa's Mexican Grill in downtown Mesa and spent the next year and a half designing and building this incredible restaurant.
A Dream Come True, Rancho de Tia RosaAfter culinary school, Dennis abandoned the food world and spent the first 15 years of his married life as a General Contractor, designing and building multi-million dollars homes here in the Phoenix area and in San Diego. Most of the homes he built were extremely large and spacious and incorporated extensive hand carved woodworking, hand painted murals, stained glass windows, secret rooms, full-service wet bars, and large-scale trains from Germany running thru different rooms of the homes. One of the homes in the Phoenix area had two theater rooms with digital surround sound, a 10 car air conditioned garage, four lakes, bridges, water features and extensive landscaping. So with his expertises of designing and building these custom homes, Dennis and his wife set off to Mexico to collect ideas and recipes for their dream restaurant.
After the Sirrines purchased the land and organized their ideas, Dennis began laying out the site and designing the buildings. And once the design elements where completed and approved by the City, Dennis spent the next six months creating the working drawings which would be used to build the project. Construction on this incredible restaurant project started on April 1, 1999. The main focus at first was to complete the Taqueria, parking areas and most of the landscaping.
Dennis had hired five craftsmen that he had worked with on his many building project from the past, and, along with his Father (Landscape Architect / Contractor) and his Mother (A.S.I.D. Interior Designer), did all of the work themselves. The only work that Dennis hired out during the entire project was the site work, the mechanical systems (heating and cooling) and the asphalt paving. Everything else was done by Dennis and his people.
After eleven months of fast paced work, the Taqueria and parking areas were finally completed on the 10th of February, 2000. The Taqueria was opened immediately for business while Dennis and his crew of craftsmen started working on the main restaurant. It was extremely challenging trying to run the Taqueria while also working to completing the rest of the project. But through their many long hours each day, and the efforts of all involved, the main restaurant was finally completed the second week of February, 2001, and opened for business the following week.
The dream that Dennis and Liz had shared many years ago was finally a reality. As they stepped back to admire this magnificent achievement in their lives, they could only hope that this incredible restaurant that they had built themselves would be as successful as their first one.
And Indeed It has!