Chichoy Restaurant Mayan tradition informs business
Chichoy Restaurant is located in Tecpán, 78 Km away from Guatemala City, on the top of a hill, between flowery meadows and planted fields. It is also located near several indigenous communities, whom are a part of 41% of the country's population. During the Guatemalan Armed Conflict, Mercedes Güitz lost her husband - it was an event that pushed her, alongside 70 other widowed women to open a restaurant to generate income. For years, it was known as the Widow's Restaurant. For the last 34 years, the Cristal family own the business.
The Mayan word "Ch'ulel" means "the spirit of things," and to preserve essence of this word was the biggest challenge we faced when improving the restaurant's design, as part of an aggressive change that involved a new corporate image.
It was normal that the Cristal family would experienced a deep fear of losing the ch’ulel of Chichoy - a place that responds to a culture, many memories of a community, and the nostalgia of the food they offer.
Compare with other typical restaurant designs, this restaurant's innovation responds to a culture. The architecture represents the needs of the community. Usually, the social perception is that the indigenous person adapts to the Western World, however, in this case, the Western Architecture adapted to an indigenous vision of the world.
The first phase included the design of the store, which has been the entrance focal point, followed by the restaurant's first extension - a terrace that connects the user with the surroundings. Once finished, the impact was something that nobody expected; the profits they are receiving are not only because of the sales, but also the optimization of the operation, its order, and its efficiency. Only the store has tripled its sales almost immediately, the restaurant and terrace have increased their profit by 50% with 69 new sitting places to eat.
In October 2018, the new facilities allowed the company to host the first Cultural Festival "Tecpán Mágico," where four of the best chefs in the country offered new dishes prepared with local ingredients. This interaction has helped Chichoy's current staff to discover that there is a promising future in their careers.
Nowadays, from the view of the highway, Chichoy shines in the distance, becoming a meeting point for the community and visitors, thanks in part to the visibility that the new design has given to it.