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La Risa Mexican Cuisine opens in Sturgis

September 28, 2018

STURGIS — Lisa Cress described her new Mexican cuisine eatery in Sturgis as a taco truck with no wheels.

She’s located in the original building of Affordable Flowers along busy Lazelle Street. Affordable Flowers owner, Heather Silvestre, had a new, larger building constructed for the flower shop right behind the old one, and made the smaller building available with a commercial kitchen.

Cress stepped up to rent the building to offer Mexican favorites she has been feeding her family for years. Born and raised in southern California, Cress met and married a Sturgis native, had four children, and later divorced, but she stayed in Sturgis because she loved the town.

“Our kids were in school, and I didn’t want to change them out,” she said. “And, we’ve been here ever since.”

Cress worked at the Side Hack Saloon the last nine years, serving as manager the past five years.

The past two weeks getting ready to open and then opening La Risa Mexican Cuisine have been crazy, she described, and Cress believes her early success can be attributed to the fact that locals have wanted another option for authentic Mexican cuisine instead of having to drive to Spearfish or Rapid City.

“I’ve been looking at doing this on and off for about four years,” she said. “I was at home looking at Mexican recipes and remembered Heather (Silvestre) saying something about putting a commercial kitchen in.”

Cress messaged Silvestre and asked what she planned to do with the commercial kitchen.

“I went and talked to her and told her about my idea. She said I could have it Monday through Saturday,” Cress said.

Cress gets her produce, meats and canned goods from Grocery Mart in Sturgis.

“I’m getting everything local,” she said.

She said social media also has helped to launch the new eatery.

“I’ve probably served most of Sturgis a cheeseburger and a beer at the Side Hack in the nine years that I was there, so I’ve had a lot of support from those friends, but I’m meeting a lot of new people, too,” she said.

La Risa Mexican Cuisine opened Sept. 17, and Cress said they ran out of most foods every day during the first week.

“One day I told a guy, ‘I have rice and I have chicken,’” she said.

One challenge has been getting avocadoes that are ripe and ready in South Dakota.

“Then, when the avocados are ripe, I can make it (guacamole) by 10 in the morning, and it is gone by lunchtime,” she said. “My dinner people rarely get a chance to order the guacamole.”

There are no tables or wait staff at La Risa Mexican. Patrons call in orders and pick them up at 748 Lazelle St., or, when Cress has the available staff, an order can be delivered.

Cress said she thought she would be able to handle the pace serving as both the order taker and cook.

“It’s tougher than I thought,” she said. “Getting that rhythm down has been difficult. I thought I could do this by myself, but absolutely not. You need at least two people.”

Cress’s grown children and her 15-year-old daughter are helping out with the venture.

“They have eaten this their entire lives because I’ve always made Mexican. But now, my kids are teasing me saying, ‘So now we have to pay for your food?’” she said.

The hours at La Risa are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Menu items include chips and homemade salsa, chips and homemade guacamole, tacos, burritos, rice and beans. For more information, call 490-3571.

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