Daniel Casas was 21 when he and his family opened his restaurant on Saturday, Jan. 7. La Casita, a charming Mexican restaurant at 1005 Norman Eskridge Hwy. in Seaford, is the culmination of his dream and a lot of hard work.
Daniel said he was six years old when he knew he wanted to be a chef. He said his mother always dreamed of owning a restaurant. “I woke up one day and my mom said, ‘Let’s open a restaurant.’” So they did.
Daniel grew up with a love of cooking, inherited from his mother, Itallexi Castrejon. The family moved from Millsboro to the Laurel School District several years back so that Daniel could take advantage of the ProStart Culinary Arts & Restaurant Management Program at Laurel High School. “We had a professional kitchen to work in,” said Daniel.
ProStart is a two-year industry-written and backed program designed specifically for high school students. Its goal is to teach students the skills needed for a career in the food-service industry. The program includes written instruction as well as hands-on work, under the tutelage of a mentor. The students complete 400 hours of paid work in local restaurants and food-service businesses, and can receive the nationally recognized and accredited Certificate of Achievement when the program is completed. ProStart is offered in 1,800 schools across all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Guam. Twenty school districts in Delaware offer the program. Over one million students have participated in ProStart over the last 23 years. For more information on ProStart, go to chooserestaurants.org/programs/prostart/.
Daniel, who said he graduated from Laurel High School in 2019, said it took two years, once they found the restaurant location, to get permits and to renovate La Casita. “It’s been really stressful,” he said. “I am manager, waiter, and cook.” His younger brother Alan Casas also graduated from the ProStart program and works with him in the restaurant, as does his mother. His youngest brother, Rodrigo, helps when he is not in school. He is currently in the ProStart program, according to Daniel. His father, Adan Casas, runs a construction business, but helps in the restaurant on weekends and busy times.
La Casita opened to a packed house on Jan. 7. However, because Daniel has had a hard time finding workers, “Some people left, we were understaffed.”
Nevertheless, the opening was a success. Daniel said that the gorditas and quesadillas are the most popular thus far. The restaurant opens at 9 a.m. every day except Wednesday (closed on Wednesdays), and the breakfast menu is available until 11 a.m. “A lot of Mexican cuisine is breakfast,” Daniel said. Huevos Rancheros, served with rice, beans and tortillas, tops the breakfast menu. Lunch and dinner offerings include Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo o Queso, Carne Asada, and much more. La Casita offers specials on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and has a full kids’ menu.
“We’re still working on the menu,” Daniel said. He said they had a much larger menu at first, but because of limited staff and the need to streamline kitchen operations, they have pared down the menu for now, which still has two full pages of dishes.
The restaurant is dine-in and take out, but currently no delivery or Door-Dash. They are working on getting a liquor license, Daniel said.
If you go-it is cash only, at the moment. Daniel said they expect to have the ability to take credit and debit in the very near future. Please call the restaurant at 302-702-2174 to find out if they accept credit and debit and for more information. Restaurant hours are 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. every day- closed on Wednesday.