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Exploring Life & Business with Bailee Chandler of Salty Iguana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bailee Chandler. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Salty Iguana is a local family business that was started by Dan Chandler in 1992. He had little experience running a restaurant, but he took a risk because he believed that food brings people together. The first location is in Prairie Village, KS & over the last 30 years Salty Iguana expanded to Independence, MO, Olathe, KS & Lawrence, KS. From the start, our food has been handmade from local, natural, & sustainable products, not because they’re trendy, but because they taste better. Our restaurants have long been the gathering-places for friends and family and our staff is wonderful at making each visitor feel at “home.” This includes Dan’s family because his children, Bailee & Zach, grew up in the restaurants and began working in every position from dishwasher to bartender as soon as they were old enough. Today, Zach & Bailee are the Operations & Marketing Directors and are proud to carry on their family legacy.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Having been around for 30 years, we’ve overcome many obstacles, everything from ice storms & fires to flooding. However, no obstacle has been as difficult as the COVID pandemic. On March 17, 2020, we made the hard decision to temporarily close all 4 locations to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This was the first & only time in 30 years that we have closed our restaurants. It was a difficult decision because our employees are like family & they depend on Salty Iguana for their livelihoods. During the 2-month closure, our family did everything we could think of to generate income for employees, including a gift card sale that raised enough revenue to pay employees & continue health care coverage. When we felt it was safe enough to reopen, we did so on an incremental basis. At first, we only opened our restaurants for contactless to-go & delivery. A few months later, we felt safe enough to reopen our patios & eventually our dining rooms for in-person limited-seating dining. Most recently, we returned to full-capacity dining. Then came the difficult task of restaffing our restaurants. While many of our beloved employees returned to work, unfortunately we also lost many employees during our closure. Staffing is our current biggest obstacle and we are trying unique ways to staff our stores, including an incentive program for existing employees that refer friends & family. While staffing is an industry-wide obstacle, we are confident that like others problems of the past, we will overcome this too.

As you know, we’re big fans of Salty Iguana. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We specialize in Kansas City Mexican; a Midwest spin to traditional Mexican flavors and dishes. We pride ourselves on handmade food from local, natural & sustainable products. For example, we source our organic blue corn tortillas and chemical-free flour tortillas from Art’s Mexican Products of Kansas City. The blue corn tortillas make our infamous Royal Blue Tacos that we’ve been serving for 30 years. We are also known for our Iguana Dip, a creamy white pepper cheese and spinach dip that is served with handmade tortilla chips and salsas. Aside from our delicious food, our Midwest hospitality and family-friendly atmosphere set us apart. At Salty Iguana, each guest is treated like family and because of that, we are proud to host generations of loyal customers. We also believe that a conscious business is the way forward and to that end, we offer meatless options, compostable to-go ware, utilize solar energy, and participate in composting and recycling programs.

What makes you happy?
Seeing our customers enjoying a delicious meal with good company. Smelling fresh tortillas frying and bell peppers sizzling. Hearing the sound of laughter from guests and staff. Tasting fresh iguana dip and salsa. Feeling that our employees are heard and respected. All of these sights, smells, sounds, tastes, & feelings make us happy because they’re the atmosphere we’re proud to create in all of our restaurants.

Pricing:

  • Lunch under $8 Monday-Friday 11-4
  • Daily Food & Drink Specials like $2 Taco Tuesdays
  • Happy Hour 3-6pm 1/2 price drinks & $5 bites
  • Catering starting at 10$/person

Contact Info:

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