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Modernizing Mexican Cuisine: Sisters bond with family via new restaurant

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By Alex Gallagher

Elisa and Paola Moreno’s parents wanted their three children to attend college. 

“It was always my dad’s dream for us to live in Phoenix and to study at Arizona State University,” she says. “My brother was the first to go to ASU, then my sister, Paola, decided to attend Northern Arizona University.”

Moreno followed suit, becoming a Sun Devil.

“I started as a digital marketing major at ASU because I’ve always been super visual and good with all things visual, but I always knew I needed something that felt more complete,” she says. 

“Halfway through my major, I discovered a new major called entrepreneurship through the
W. P. Carey School of Business, and that caught my attention because I always knew that I wanted to start my own business. I added that as a second major, and that really changed my life.”

Even though the major was rigorous, Moreno said it was an opportunity she could not turn down. 

“While it added another load of classes to the second half of my degree, the classes were so dynamic that it helped me grow,” Moreno says. “It also exposed me to a club for entrepreneurs to network with alumni.”

Now, over a year after graduation, Moreno has teamed with her family to share their love of food with Call Her Martina, which will open soon at the Scottsdale Waterfront. “The main topic of our family has always been food,” she says. “Our grandmother taught us to try different things and to like all foods.” 

As a young entrepreneur — who also owns a charcuterie business called Blame the Cork, which supplies boards to bars like 36 Below and private jet caterers — Moreno saw this as a golden opportunity to expand her business portfolio. 

“We combined our love of foods with my father’s entrepreneurial background, which motivated us to want to display our culture to our community of Scottsdale — which we have called home for the past decade,” Moreno says.

It also gave her a perfect chance to show off her marketing skills.

“This is my family’s restaurant. My mom and sister are very involved in the kitchen area, I am involved with the marketing, my brother oversees the bar, my sister helped with the interior design and my dad oversees everything,” Moreno says.

Not only was this beneficial for Elisa, but Call Her Martina has also given sister Paola — who graduated from NAU with a degree in interior design — an opportunity to show off her skills.

“My sister is an interior designer and I have a lot of ideas, so we complement each other very well,” Moreno says. “Deep down, we’re all entrepreneurs at heart and we all motivate each other.”

The Morenos are excited to change the perception of Mexican food. 

“Our main motivation is to clear the stereotypes about what Mexican food is,” Moreno says. “Mexican places here have the typical enchiladas and rice and beans, whereas restaurants in Mexico have so much more of that. There’s so much more fusion, and the food has changed so much over time.”

Call Her Martina will offer traditional Mexican cuisine like tostadas and tacos, but every dish will have an element of pizazz.

“Most of the plates have Mexican profiles like tostadas, tacos and elotes, but each plate brings something different to the table,” Moreno says. “We call it Mexican with a twist, which can be a spice, a different ingredient or a special sauce to create a perfect combination,”

Moreno’s goal was to create a restaurant that feels lively and pays homage to some of Mexico’s most inspirational women.

“We wanted to make the space lively,” she says. “The women whose pictures hang over the kitchen are from La Epoca de Oro, the golden age of Mexican cinema in the 1930s, and that era was so iconic because women were super characteristic of that era.”

“Martina” is a fictional character who embodies the women of Mexico’s golden age of cinema.

“That’s why we called the restaurant Call Her Martina,” she says. “We wanted to make Martina into some sort of a character that also represents all women. Women in these movies had marked characteristics, and we wanted Martina to celebrate all types of women.”

Overall, the family has big plans once doors open this spring that will delight customers walking up and down Marshall Way.

“We’re thinking this will likely be a big dinner spot, but we will be open for lunch and we have plans to add a Mexican brunch,” Moreno says. “We also plan to have DJs for happy hour and taco Tuesdays. We definitely want to fit in every hour of the day.” CT

Call Her Martina: Opening soon

Scottsdale Waterfront, 7135 E. Camelback Road, Suite 165, Scottsdale

callhermartina.com

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