Cantina’s makeover draws bigger crowds

With just a little rearranging and a few touch ups here and there, the cantina at El Sombrero is taking the next step into becoming Port Orchard’s weekend hotspot.

Just three years after expanding into its current location and under the guidance of owner Pablo De La Cruz and bar manger Juanita Trujillo, El Sombrero’s bar has undergone a recent face lift that has helped open up some spaces and sight lines and led to bigger crowds.

“We wanted it to be more open, to have more of a bar atmosphere in here,” Trujillo said. “It’s really opened the place up a lot and we were getting so busy, we needed it. Back in the day, we didn’t need all this seating. But now ...”

Over the last few months, the bar did away with its weekly taco bar in favor of more booth space, removed the mini bar in the back and added three new TVs, including a plasma screen in the back. Plans are under way to reshape the existing booths, again to create more space, raise the top level over the bar and add more plasma TVs.

“All around, even in the restaurant, it’s been very good,” Trujillo said. “I would say our numbers are definitely higher now than they ever have been.”

All of these changes have produced larger numbers of patrons, especially evenings and weekends and Trujillo has beefed up her night staff.

Trujillo, who started working at El Sombrero as a hostess more than 10 years ago, has been working exclusively on the bar side and became the manger last year. Many of the changes have she and De La Cruz have come up with have been made but they are always looking for more.

“We’re getting there,” Trujillo said. “We just need more space to accommodate everyone.”

Other changes Trujillo said she like to make include the addition of a dartboard and pool table, restructuring of the actual bar and a little more furniture relocation to add even more space.

El Sombrero is located at 1397 Olney Ave. SE next to the old K-Mart building. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday while the bar operates under the same hours, but is known to stay open later if need be.

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