GRANGEVILLE – After a year-and-a-half at the helm of The Melting Pot, Joel Gomez feels he is in a good place to offer great food to the community.
Gomez purchased the former Hong Fa Restaurant in July of 2017.
“I knew it would be a challenge because people liked that food, and with me, it was going to be different – different flavors,” he said. “There was a definite risk in taking it on.”
Joel called on his brother, Arturo, for help, and the two brought their cooking skills in Mexican and Italian cuisine to the table. For the Chinese food portion, they have friends at Bamboo Garden who helped them, as well as their own research and trial and error.
“But, still, I know our food does not taste exactly like others, because what we cook uses a lot of traditional spices and the flavors are very authentic, so the food does taste different than people may be used to,” he explained.
Joel said he does not like to use MSG or a lot of extra sodium in other ways.
“I want the food to be tasty and also as healthy as possible while still having good flavor and making people feel good,” he said.
The Melting Pot food may also take a little extra time for the customer, he said, because the food is made fresh.”
“Rice, beans and salsa are things we make ahead of time, but our other food, such as sauces and pasta and meat items, are made fresh at the time of the order,” he said.
He also explained when he is cooking, “I can make anything someone requests – even if it’s not on the menu.”
The restaurant has become known for its burgers, Joel said, and they are in the process of adding more to the menu.
“They are freshly made patties,” he said. Lamb, watercress and eggplant primavera are also on the menu, as well as homemade desserts of flan, tres leches and tiramisu.
Joel and his wife, Lola Gonzalez, not only own The Melting Pot, but also a thriving cleaning company.
“Lola is my biggest support, along with our children,” he said. The couple have four children: Brenda, 19, a freshman at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa; Brian, 15, a student at Grangeville High School; Brandon, 10, who attends Grangeville Elementary Middle School; and Bruno, 13 months.
Joel and Lola each grew up in separate small towns in Mexico, but met in California where Joel played semi-professional soccer. Since moving to Grangeville, he has been a soccer coach, including for the HS team for the past two-plus years, where he has been able to coach both Brenda and Brian.
“I love coaching,” he said. “It’s heaven to leave everything else behind for a little while and just concentrate in soccer.”
Joel said hard work has been instilled in him for years and he has “many dreams to follow.”
“They’re here in Grangeville – the perfect place for my family,” he smiled.
The Melting Pot is located at 521 West Main Street, Grangeville, and is open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturdays noon to 9 p.m.; and Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. For orders to go, call 208-983-1701.