When Diego Rivera decided to open Buena Vida Restaurant, he wanted it to be more than a place where people could grab a quick bite. He wanted to create a place where locals in the community could gather together.
"I've always had a passion for cooking from a young age. I started out with a simple hot dog cart and grew my business from there," Rivera said in an email. "I have always had a passion for business and serving my community and I felt that this was the best way I could do it."
Buena Vida held its grand opening late last month at its location on Stone Avenue, near Speedway, next to the Sahara Apartments.
The menu includes items such as tortas, burritos, Sonoran hot dogs and caramelos, plus a couple salad options.
But more than the food, Rivera hopes his restaurant will connect the community.
"I felt that this area of town needed something for the locals and community to gather and meet to exchange creative ideas," he said, adding that Stone Avenue is "witnessing a renaissance with more restaurants popping up and more buildings being renovated."
"Buena Vida is more than just a restaurant. It's culture," he said.
"We had all of these murals painted for guests to take selfies next to, and we will have more coming soon," Rivera said.
Buena Vida also has a lovely open patio with plenty of space facing the front parking lot. One evening each month, the patio is roped off and transformed into a wrestling ring, holding two fierce lucha libre competitors for your entertainment.
The luchador idea was one given to Rivera by a friend, who suggested that Buena Vida should have some kind of theme, different from other Mexican restaurants.
"Although at first I wasn't excited about the idea, once the restaurant concept and logos started coming together, the luchador theme ended up looking great and I went all out with the concept," he said.
In addition, the restaurant hosts monthly pop-up markets supporting local art makers every third Thursday.