Hernandez brings Seafood Express to Fort Garland

FORT GARLAND — Avery Hernandez came to the San Luis Valley about a year ago, loved it, and decided to move to the Fort Garland area. He had a successful family seafood restaurant in New Braunfels, Texas.

Hernandez bought a restaurant in Fort Garland — formerly the Old West Café — and opened the Mountain View Diner on Jan. 29, serving breakfast and lunch.

Since seafood is Hernandez's specialty and since there is no ocean in San Luis Valley, he is bringing the ocean to the Valley.

Hernandez opened the Seafood Express on Oct. 15 — formerly the Rendezvous Bar-B-Que — next to his other restaurant.

Hernandez says, "(he) is adding seafood. I want to keep it simple."

He serves fish and shrimp dishes. He realizes seafood is an unusual choice for this area, but he felt people would enjoy it once they tried it. All the recipes are passed down from his father, who first gave Hernandez his love of cooking. His father is happy when people enjoy his cooking. Even now, no retirement for him.

"My father works more hours than I do," he says.

Hernandez says he prefers frozen fish and shrimp and has found shrimp prices cheaper here. His fish comes from Vietnam, has a non-fishy taste and is like redfish.

The family had a successful seafood restaurant but lost everything in Hurricane Harvey in 2017. They opened Avery's Kitchen again in 2018 in New Braunfels, Texas. Then COVID-19 hit, and they had to close the restaurant.

"It took a lot to re-open," he said. Then they could not find employees. "Many people had to take different jobs and then never returned to the restaurant business."

Two of Hernandez's employees started working in Avery's Kitchen in 2018 and have stayed with him through thick and thin. They even followed Hernandez to the San Luis Valley and continue to work for him at his newest restaurant, the Seafood Express.

Matt Spear helped design the restaurant and "makes the most amazing cheesecake."  Spear's wife, Heather, is the cashier and server.

Hernandez hopes to have Avery's Kitchen closed and his family relocated to Fort Garland by June 2024. Both he and his father are looking forward to running the family restaurant together again.

For more information on hours and the menu, call Seafood Express at 719-601-6895.