Talk about word of mouth.
Carlos' Bistro, the 11-year-old, fine dining restaurant on Colorado Springs' west side, has been named one of the nation's top 100 restaurants for 2015 by online reservation service OpenTable.
The ranking is based on the opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews that were submitted by OpenTable diners, which cover more than 20,000 restaurants nationwide.
Carlos' Bistro, owned and operated by longtime restaurateur Carlos Echeandia, was the lone Springs restaurant in this year's OpenTable rankings. Two others in Colorado, Chimney Park in Windsor and the Ski Tip Lodge in Keystone, also made the list.
Restaurants in OpenTable's list weren't ranked in any order, other than the top 10. Carlos' Bistro wasn't among the top 10, but this is the second straight year it was included in OpenTable's top 100. It's also received top scores in the Zagat Survey of America's Top Restaurants, and top rankings from online services such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Echeandia, known for his friendly greeting of diners at the door and his signature look of flipping his tie over his shoulder, said he feels fortunate that diners from the Pikes Peak region and around the world make repeat trips to his restaurant.
The restaurant's success, he said, results from a combination of quality food and service. But he also takes pride in making diners feel comfortable so that they want to return.
"I'm addicted to make every day better," Echeandia said. "That's my goal. You try me tonight, you come back tomorrow. Believe me, I'm going to make it better. That's what I preach every day."
Echeandia, 52, began as a dishwasher in a Disneyland hotel, and later became a waiter and cook. After moving to Colorado and gaining experience at several Springs restaurants, he and his wife, Marcia, opened Carlos' Bistro in October 2004 at 1025 S. 21st St.
Today, he said he thanks God daily for his opportunity, while Marcia is instrumental in operating the restaurant while also raising their four children.
"When somebody walks through the door to any business, that's the opportunity you have of life," Echeandia said. "You've got to give your all. The opportunity of success is less than one second. If you don't have the hospitality, the smile, the welcome, the attentiveness...you see all that, that's part of success."
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