Meet Rafaél Rios of Yeyo's Mezcaleria y Taqueria

Yeyo's creates a culturally rich space of artisanal food, beverage, and art in downtown Rogers.

Rafael Rios, founder and executive chef of Yeyo’s Mezcaleria y Taqueria, the third business in the group of Rios Family-owned restaurants, started as a local farm when his father, Don Yeyo, started growing tomatoes, cilantro, carrots, and peppers in 2012. The farm quickly became a mission to change the perception of Mexican food with a farm-to-table approach while sourcing from local farmers and creating a space where guests can share art, history, meet new people, and be inspired to create. Rafael's vision for Yeyo's is to expand the presence of Mexican culture and enlighten the community of the roots beneath the food, beverage, art, and entertainment.

“We have always known we have an inclusive and culturally-rich city and over the years we have seen an evolution of diverse new businesses moving to Rogers.”

Octavio Logo, a local artist, was brought in to create the hospitality group’s vision as an art destination. Murals and sculptures were made to fit this unique space and reflect on the ancient culture of drinking mezcal, a Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage made from oven-cooked agave. Mezcal existed many years before tequila did and Yeyo’s has the largest selection of artisanal grade mezcal in the state. You typically only find a selection of this sort in big cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The 1907 is an amazing building full of history that aligned with Chef Rafael’s vision to make it an art destination. "Guests feel like they are in a big city experiencing artisanal food, culture, and entertainment," says Rafaél. Doughp who provides some of the tacos offered in the mornings at Onyx Coffee Lab at The 1907 carries Yeyo’s tortillas. Yeyo's caters for some events held at the Dry Storage and shares a friendship and strong connection via social media communication with The 1907.

Rafael’s favorite appetizer is the Elote and Refritos, served with traiyuda, a flatbread, almost like a chip, from Oaxaca, Mexico paired with refried beans seasoned with different peppers like chile ancho, guajillo, and arbol topped with roasted elote, serrano peppers, and cotija cheese. Rafael’s favorite taco is the suadero taco, a thin cut of beef and staple in Mexico City, and very unlikely you will find it anywhere else around here. It is amongst the most popular tacos along with al pastor. The tortillas are made at the 8th Street Market location in Bentonville, Yeyo’s El Alma de Mexico.

The Rios family is making a difference by integrating into the community and hospitality industry in Northwest Arkansas. “Hospitality means making people that you connect with happy in a genuine approach to improving the quality of life.” As a veteran owned business, The Rios family wanted a connection with the community that is deeper than collaborations with local farmers and businesses. “Yeyo’s Gives Back” is focused on giving back to art and music programs, veteran affairs, mental health, and food insecurity. They honor these programs because it is a part of the community that they identify with the most. “We have come across a lot of mental health issues in the hospitality industry, so it is important for us to give back. Everything that we give to is very near and dear to our heart and has been specifically curated to make sure that we give to the things we are extremely passionate about.”

"Where Possible Lives is a prime example of staying true to your goals. It means going after your goals even when things do not go as expected. Sometimes you may need to go back to the drawing board and plan for another approach or reach out to others in the community for help."

Rafael recommends visitors spend some time at Lake Atalanta especially in the early spring and early fall. The DTR Market, Frisco Festival, and Christmas Parade, are events in Downtown Rogers where the community gets together and invites all from near and far to participate.

“Our goal with this concept is to preserve and share our deepest roots and traditions and create a spiritual connection between artisanal Mezcal, art, and food with people."

*Due to COVID-19, Yeyo's Mezcaleria y Taqueria closed down in March after opening for business just a few months prior. Yeyo's is working with the building owners at The 1907, Rogers Community Development ,and The Mayor's office, Chef Rafael reports that as of August 1st, they are in the final stages of their reopening plan, with expanded outdoor dining and a takeout program in the works. Stay tuned for reopening information on their Facebook page and Instagram page.

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