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400 spaces: Palapas Bar and Grill a cool place to have some cold drinks and a good time
Palapas Bar and Grill
With a goal of spreading Mexican heritage to the Forsyth community, Oziel Rodriguez recently opened a second location on Browns Bridge Road. The new restaurant aims to continue to bring awareness of Mexican culture from every dish to the mere design of the chairs. - photo by Ben Hendren

This article appears in the September issue of  400 Life.

Located in Forsyth County, Palapas Bar and Grill prides itself for creating a space enriched with Mexican culture and cuisine. Its first location on Buford Highway has been serving the county for about six-and-a-half years and counting. 

With a goal of spreading Mexican heritage to the Forsyth community, Oziel Rodriguez recently opened a second location on Browns Bridge Road. The new restaurant aims to continue to bring awareness of Mexican culture from every dish to the mere design of the chairs. 

In fact, the furniture has hand-painted images from Mexico, depicting significant cultural references. 

“This location has a bit more of a personal touch than the first one. Most of the furniture is hand-painted from Mexico. We wanted to give that personal Mexican feel,” Rodriguez said.

Besides celebrating Mexican heritage through their decor, Palapas also dedicates themselves to the authenticity of their food. Most of their salsas and sauces are made from scratch in-house. Their genuine and detailed approach to true Mexican cuisine makes them stand out from other Mexican restaurants in the area. 

Palapas Bar and Grill
Palapas Bar and Grill Manager Stephen Rodriguez, Owner Oziel (Ozzie) Rodriguez and manager Joel Rodriguez. - photo by Ben Hendren

Their most popular dish is the “Palapas Favorite,” however Palapas’ management and floor staff all recommend something different. The owner loves the “Taquitos Tradicionales,” while some of the wait staff prefer the mini tacos. Regardless, there is clearly something on the menu for everyone to enjoy.

Everyone who works at Palapas shares the same passion for making their customers’ experience great. The atmosphere seems to be a selling point for patrons. 

“A lot of customers really like our atmosphere. Our [management and floor staff] personalities combined make coming to Palapas a great visit. I personally haven’t seen anything similar to it anywhere else,” said Tabata Acosta, a server at Palapas.

The owner also mentioned how the second location will continue to focus on strengthening its relationship with the community. Oziel Rodriguez aims for Palapas to not only be a provider of great food and service, but a place where people with all kinds of backgrounds can come together.

 “One thing that is special about Palapas is that it’s a place where people can connect with other people that they may have never before. This usually happens around the bar. The energy there connects people in ways that I’ve never seen before,” he said. 

Palapas prides itself on building strong relationships with each and every customer that last throughout the years. 

“My favorite moments with customers always seem to be full-circle like seeing teenagers who visited us frequently grow into adults. Or, when we are booked to cater someone’s graduation event or wedding party. These long-lasting relationships with our customers mean the most,” Rodriguez said.

With a hands-on management style, everyone on Palapas’ staff gets to experience some sort of direct customer interaction. The owner himself enjoys waiting tables and meeting his customers.

“[As the owner] I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know other people. I particularly love moments when I decide to wait tables to help out the staff, and customers have no idea who I am. And when I introduce myself as the owner, I love seeing their reaction,” said Rodriguez. “Moments like that also mean a lot.” 

From supporting local schools during events to handing out free T-shirts on customer’s birthdays, it’s evident that the staff at Palapas Bar and Grill wants every customer to leave feeling satisfied and appreciated. 

“We want to honor [the customers] presence, since they chose us over any other restaurant they could’ve been to,” said Rodriguez. “We want them to feel welcomed and appreciated.” 

Palapas Bar and Grill also does catering. For more information, call the Buford Highway location at 770-889-1002, or the Browns Bridge Road location at 678-771-8091

Article by Jordyn Paul-Slater for 400 Life.