BY LIZ WITBECK
Joe Parisi and Brad Smith were best
friends growing up, going to Saratoga
Springs High School and getting jobs bartending
together at Mexican Connection.
After attending separate colleges and receiving
degrees in the hospitality and hotel
management industries, both men went to
work at restaurants. When opportunities
for ownership of Mexican Connection in
Saratoga Springs came up, Parisi and Smith
knew they were the ones to take over.
“We couldn’t imagine a better place to
work than Mexican Connection,” said Smith.
“We both loved working here. It was our
favorite place to work.”
Parisi and Smith became the new owners
of the 41 Nelson Ave. establishment in 2014.
The restaurant has been in Saratoga Springs
for 30 years, with the previous owners operating
the establishment for 14 years.
The two men take a hands-on approach
to the business, and are there every day to
oversee operations. Smith is head of the
front of the house and helps manage the bar.
Parisi is the executive chef of the kitchen.
For Parisi and Smith, owning Mexican
Connection is about making sure that the
restaurant they loved as teenagers stays
“It’s like a family in this place,” said Smith. “A lot of this is due to the support
we have from the community and we really
appreciate that … it’s still the same place
they remember, and we’re getting better
The previous executive chef helped train
Parisi to make many of the dishes that
Mexican Connection is known for. One of
his favorite dishes to make is chilaquiles, a
Mexican lasagna casserole made with layers
of corn tortillas, shredded chicken, cheese
and sour cream baked in a tomatillo sauce.
The menu at Mexican Connection has
remained the same, along with prices, the
new owners said.
Renovations included painting the walls
and renovating the bar. The owners and their
families did the renovations themselves.
New to the restaurant are tequila tasting
dinners. Guests can come in for a four- or
five-course meal, where each dish is strategically
paired with a Mexican tequila.
Parisi and Smith use the event to show off
their passion for great tequila and Mexican
Mexican Connection is open Monday
through Thursday, 4-9 p.m.; Friday, 4-10
p.m.; Saturday at 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and
Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more
information, call 584-4466 or visit www.mexconx.com