China’s Cocina reopens after summer shutdown

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 1:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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FISHERSVILLE, Va. (WHSV) - After being shutdown one week from opening, China’s Cocina has reopened with new hours.

China’s Cocina (pronounced Chee-nuh’s Ko-cee-nuh) opened the week before mother’s day, hitting all of it’s sales goals while it was open. After the mother’s day weekend, the kitchen closed with no foreseeable reopening in sight.

Cesar Ruiz, owner of China’s Cocina, said “his hands were tied” and he couldn’t do anything to prevent the restaurant from closing down. He said he was heartbroken and wanted to get back into serving tacos, birria and other kinds of food for the community.

The name “China’s Cocina” comes from Ruiz’s sister Yessenia. Her nickname was “China” and the word “Cocina” translated to “kitchen” in Spanish. Ruiz said closing down the restaurant hurt more, knowing he was also shutting down his sister’s namesake in the process.

“It has my sister’s name attached to it. It made me really angry and frustrated when I had to close down unexpectedly,” Ruiz said. “I used it [his anger and frustration] to fuel me to come here everyday; stay late, come in early or do whatever I have to do to get things done. I used it as fuel.”

Since his reopening, Ruiz emphasized the restaurant is more than just a taco shop. The main dishes are tacos but he is working to expand his menu, including recently added burritos and specials on the weekends.

Ruiz’s passion for cooking came from his time as an army soldier. In 2020, he served in the Army and learned how much people enjoyed his food whilst everyone was lockdown at base. He said a dream of his was to open a food truck once he was done serving, giving back to the community he grew up in.

When the restaurant closed down, Ruiz returned to his old HVAC job to save up money for his return to the food service industry. Again, he wanted to prioritize his money towards a food truck, but he said the interactions and conversations with previous customers pushed him to reopening the restaurant instead.

“I had saved up to actually start a food truck before I had invested in here,” Ruiz said. “Having to go back to my old HVAC job and save money and do some numbers and stuff, that was one of those things that it was nonstop work since then. I always believe that if it comes back to you it’s meant for you.”

You can find the menu and learn more about the organization from it’s Facebook page. It’s located on 2284 Jefferson Highway in Fishersville. There new hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.