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COOS BAY — Seventeen years.

In a business where some establishments come and go before you can blink an eye, El Sol just keeps chugging along.

On April 6, Alberto and Brandi Guzman celebrated the 17th anniversary of opening El Sol on U.S. Highway 101.

"The business is doing really good right now," Alberto said last week. "We're getting ready for the summer time."

Guzman said business has been good even with the amount of competition there is in the Mexican food niche here in the Bay Area.

He credits the family atmosphere with the restaurant's longevity.

And while the family atmosphere has always been a part of Guzman's business plan, his actual family is growing — he and Brandi now have seven children. 

Twins Rachel and Emmyliana, 1, now join the rest of the family that has grown up around the restaurant.

Holden is 15 and going to be a junior at Marshfield next year. Justin is 13, Christina, 10, Hannah, 8, and Jozef, 5.

"Justin is now helping on the weekends," Guzman said. "Holden helps out whenever we need him. Since he was 8-9 years old, he was already taking orders."

And it is not unusual to see Alberto coming out of the kitchen to check and see how your meal is.

And the menu there is extensive. Everything from pork carnitas and chile rellenos to a number of seafood specialties.

"Everything is homemade," he said. "The chile rellenos are handmade. From doing the Anaheim chile to stuffing it with cheese, dipping it in egg, batter and frying (everything in vegetable oil). All the sauces are homemade."

Speaking of the chile rellenos, Cuisine reader and letter writer Anita Grant wrote me right after we announced the Dining 101 series and suggested I give them a try.

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"They have the best ever chile rellenos," Grant wrote.

So, I did.

I don't have a lot to judge them against, but they were very tasty. I ordered the combination lunch special that comes with a chile relleno and a taco as well as the rice and bean side dishes.

The chicken in the taco was delightful. Moist and tender, and in a crunchy taco shell. The combination lunch specials run $8.25. There are a number of other items on the lunch specials menu that range from $5.95 to $9.25.

Rick Harrison, star of History Channel's "Pawn Stars" stopped in at the restaurant about six months ago.

Guzman related the story about where they sat (second booth on the left), and that after a small chat with Harrison, the reality star took a few pictures with family members at the restaurant. Guzman had them blown up.

One of the photos was displayed along the center wall.

"He even signed his receipt."

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