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December 2, 2022
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Hercules Draft House and Cantina opens

After a few years working at Shepherd & Sims, Beltran Reyes, 36, says he’s excited to launch a restaurant in the Los Gatos space where Flights used to occupy.

While his previous employer offered American cuisine, Hercules Draft House and Cantina, where he’s one of the partners, will dish out south-of-the-border fare, he explains.

“It’s all about fresh authentic Mexican food,” he said, pledging to put a heavy emphasis on good flavor. “I love cooking.”

Reyes’ family arrived at the space Sept. 22 for the grand opening, dressed in summery floral apparel—pinks, teals and bright reds—with giant smiles on their faces.

Reyes says he’s excited to cook healthy Mexican food for Los Gatos diners. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

It’s this kind of delight he says he wants the wider community to experience under his auspices at Saratoga-Los Gatos Road and Saratoga Avenue, he told the Los Gatan.

“I like to see when people are excited,” said Reyes, who will serve as head chef. “I’m looking forward to cook for everyone here.”

The inaugural Flights location closed as restaurateur Alex Hult decided to focus on other ventures after being hit by a series of disability lawsuits he characterized as frivolous.

Flights’ dining room had also played host to weekly Kiwanis service club meetings.

Instead of cooking up chicken and waffles or barbecue ribs, Hercules is serving beet salad ($12), Aztec soup ($8), tacos de la calle (3 for $12), oysters (a half-dozen for $20), chile relleno ($18), and chicken enchiladas ($16).

Reyes promises diners won’t be disappointed by one of his signature dishes—an arrangement of sesame seeds, pickled vegetables, and rice and beans on house-made tortillas.

“I will make a good ‘mole de rancho,’” he said of the $20 plate. “I’m inviting everyone to come here to enjoy the food.”

Reyes was 18 when he immigrated from Guatemala to the South Bay of San Francisco.

He took up residence in Santa Clara and found his first job as a dishwasher in Creole restaurant Nola in Palo Alto.

He worked his way up in the industry over the next decade-and-a-half, and even got to cook for the Copa América Centenario soccer tournament in 2016.

Reyes was also part of the opening team at Relish in Gilroy, which focused on Californian cuisine.

Being at the helm in Los Gatos, the place he calls home, is extra special, he says.

But with living just down the road, he knows he won’t be able to use traffic as an excuse for showing up late or not coming in on his days off, if the unexpected arises.

“I’m working hard for this opportunity,” he said, adding he’s proud of the menu he’s crafted for health-conscious eaters. “I’ll put my heart into everything.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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