From dishwasher to restaurateur, Jorge Cueva’s success is no accident. With multiple restaurants and concepts, a catering company and a handful of food trucks on his resume that totals over 28 years in the industry, you’d think he’d be slowing down soon, but he’s just getting started.
As owner and founder of Orange County’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year Tempo Urban Kitchen and Little Italy San Diego’s new King and Queen Cantina, Cueva’s concepts exemplify modern Mexican cuisine with a different spin. He tastefully combines seven foodie categories into one menu making it so whatever you’re craving is available. Asian fusion and French and Italian influences fill the menu with a Mexican sushi concept on the way. “I go against the rules,” Cueva states. “I’m just crazy.” He attributes his creativity to his “mucho loco” attitude. Through his travels around the world and attempting to try 10 new restaurants a week, he gets inspired by his taste buds.
When you’re living out your passion, Cueva expresses that it’s just different. “Everyone says, ‘Why do you work so much?’ but I don’t feel like I’m working,” he says about sipping a glass of wine while conversing with his customers. He’s a people person. “I don’t have friends; my friends are my customers.” Each time he opens a restaurant, Cueva says he immerses himself in that community, truly getting to know the locals that come through the door. From playing golf with them to naming cocktails after his regulars, it’s all about the customers to him.
But, what is the most important ingredient? “Work ethic,” he says. “Never give up, never take ‘no’ for an answer and have passion and drive.” This hard-working mentality comes from his father; it’s in his genes. Cueva says his dad, Enrique, was an entrepreneurial hustler, a real workhorse. Seeing that example and working alongside him starting as young as 8 years old prepared him and continues to inspired him today.
This soon-to-be global phenomenon is set to roll out even more locations in the next coming years. Get ready for a new Tempo Urban Kitchen location expanding the border in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico plus two locations of ‘Tempo Cantina’ opening in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. No matter what location you are dining in Southern California or south of the border, you bet you will receive out-of-this-world service and fresh, flavorful cuisine. “I just wanted to be different—authentic Mexican food with a twist.”