The spacious and inviting yellow dining room can be seen through
huge glass windows near the northeast corner of College Avenue and
This bright, vibrant atmosphere that radiates out on to the
street belongs to La Luz Mexican Grill, 200 Walnut St., a small
locally-owned restaurant in Old Town that serves anything from
salads and burritos to nachos and cookies.
Known around Fort Collins for their fish tacos, La Luz’s current
location was once a dark night club and bar with a seedy
reputation. Before the opening of Starbucks Coffee and the
renovation of The Northern Hotel across the street, this was an
area that most people steered clear of. But all that has changed
since Peter Schultz opened his restaurant in May 1998.
“I like working for myself,” said Shultz, the owner and general
manager of La Luz.
After graduating from the University of Colorado in Denver with
a degree in finance, Shultz quickly became “disenchanted” with the
corporate lifestyle and left a career and salary to work in a
Mexican grill across the street from his office building. The job
paid $6 an hour.
“I worked there for four years,” Schultz said. “I learned the
business inside and out.”
After coming to Fort Collins in 1998, he opened a shop of his
La Luz began with three employees and has now grown to 12. It
offers a variety of fresh burritos, quesadillas, tacos and salads
that are personally made to include an abundance of grilled Mahi
Mahi, shrimp, carnitas, steak, chicken or veggies. They also have a
deluxe breakfast burrito.
Among this varied selection, the fish tacos seem be almost
“I like working (at La Luz),” said Hilavio Patricio Cordara, a
cook. “I love to eat the fish tacos.”
The recipes for the dishes at La Luz come from years of hard
work. The Mexican staff at the grill Shultz worked for put him to
the test, and after they realized he could hold his own in the
kitchen, they let him in on all sorts of culinary tricks.
“The cooks taught me recipes from home. I learned their mothers’
secrets, their sisters’ secrets and I thought that I could take it
to the next level,” Schultz said.
Sara Hodge loves working for La Luz.
“You get along with everyone, like on Mexican Independence Day
(all the employees) went to the parties together,” said Hodge, a La
Customers also seem to have a close relationship with La Luz
“It’s very personal,” Hodge said. “I have a 1 year old and
people are always asking me ‘How’s your daughter?'”
Fort Collins has a place in its heart for La Luz and the
restaurant is growing.
“Fort Collins has been very kind to us,” Shultz said. “We try to
listen to our customers.”
In six weeks, another La Luz is scheduled to open on Boardwalk
Drive and John F. Kennedy Parkway in south Fort Collins. The new
location will have a traditional Mexican look and an area for