Downtown La Grange welcomes new restaurant
Oscar Mojica sits in a booth at Dos Marias Grill & Cantina in La Grange. Photo by Jon Dawson / Neuse News
LA GRANGE — A formerly vacant building at 131 South Caswell Street in La Grange is now home to a restaurant with strong family ties.
"Our restaurant is named 'Dos Marias Grill & Cantina' because of my husband's mother and grandmother," co-owner Sonia Mojica said. "They were both great cooks and both named Maria."
Featuring traditional Mexican dishes, a bar and a relaxed atmosphere, Dos Marias Grill and Cantina is the first restaurant venture by Sonia Mojica and her husband, Oscar.
"I struggled quite a bit to get here," Oscar Mojica said. "I'm here all because of my mother and my grandmother."
As a young boy, Oscar was separated from his mother for long stretches of time while she was working in the United States.
"Sometimes, my mother would be gone for up to a year doing seasonal work in America," Oscar said. "During those times, my grandmother looked after me in Mexico.
“My mother would come back to Mexico when the work was over but she was gone a lot of the time. The last two years we were in Mexico, my sister and I stayed with various relatives. At one place, we stayed there were just four walls — no roof, no electricity, no running water."
Oscar was 12 when he and his sister were able to come to the United States to live with his mother in Duplin County. Oscar's English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, Loreen Sumner, took an interest him that would shape the rest of his life. Sumner eventually wrote a book about the experience called “Oscar Mojica: He Dared Me to Teach Him English,” which is available on Amazon.com.
"They use the book as a teaching tool in the Duplin County school system," Oscar said. "It details the struggles I went through as an immigrant trying to learn English, and teachers use the book to help motivate kids in a similar situation."
Oscar went on to become a U.S citizen and joined the military, serving in Iraq for 27 months from 2005-08. Once out of the military, Mojica sold insurance and became an ESL teacher. He is currently a personnel manager at Family First Support Center in Mt. Olive.
"Dos Marias is a wonderful additon to our downtown area," La Grange Town Manager John Craft said. "The restaurant has a great atmosphere, superior service and affordable prices. We are so pleased that they've joined our other restaurants in offering a great variety of culturally diverse food to the citizens of La Grange and surrounding areas."
For more information on Dos Marias Grill & Cantina, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DosMariasGrillandCantina.