This family of restauranteurs has brought Richmond Maya Mexican Grill and will soon continue their delicious legacy with the opening of Pink Flamingo.
When Michael and Maria Oseguera came to Richmond eight years ago, their goal was to bring a different kind of authentic Mexican restaurant to the city. Their restaurant, Maya Mexican Grille and Tequila Lounge, located downtown on Grace Street, serves modern Mexican cuisine with a Latin-American twist.
“I would say here at Maya’s we serve much more of an upscale Mexican menu,” said Michael. “For most restaurants it’s all about hospitality, but it’s how we present the food that makes us different from everybody else.”
Mexican food is fundamentally what they cook at Maya, but the Osegueras want to make their cuisine stand out from similar restaurants.
“We just make it a little more vibrant by adding different flavors and components you wouldn’t normally find in a Mexican restaurant, especially not in Richmond,” Michael said.
The name of the restaurant was inspired by the Mayan civilization that resided in Mexico and all throughout Central America. The menu embodies this multicultural journey through history and geography.
“That’s what we do with our food, we put our personalities into it,” Michael said “we’re taking a tour through all these different countries.”
Guests can have a variety of traditional Mexican and Latin-American dishes, including carne asada tacos and tortas, tamales, mole negro, arroz a la tumbada, and fresh ceviche.
Michael and Maria were both born in Latin America, and gained interest in entrepreneurship after moving to New York City early in their childhood. Michael, who was born in Honduras but has Mexican roots from his parents, set a goal to open his own place while waiting tables at other peoples’ restaurants.
“I like the hospitality factor of it,” Michael said “it doesn’t feel like you’re working.”
Maria was born in Columbia and developed a passion for the food industry at a young age working in restaurants around New York.
“I started at a very young age and just fell in love with the magic that happened in the kitchen,” Maria said “I was always very curious about it and little by little learned all about it.”
Maya is a family business that has become generational. When first walking into Maya, you get a sense that you are being invited into someone’s home and kitchen. You are immediately greeted at the front desk by either Michael or one of his children: Michael Jr. or Kylie, who help around the restaurant in their spare time.
The oldest of three children, Michael Osegeura Jr. has assisted his parents in the business for several years. In addition to hosting and serving tables, Michael Jr., who recently graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in business management, checks inventory and quality of service.
Michael Jr. said being more involved with the family business is something he has considered continuing.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Michael Jr. said. “I feel like it’s one of those things that keeps the day to day interesting because you’re constantly meeting new people, you’re giving people nice experiences, and it’s rewarding to see how giving someone a nice experience can make their day.”
He also said working with his family and helping build the family business has been a rewarding experience.
“[My parents] inspire me,” said Michael Jr. “They show me that with hard work you can make something successful, and I feel like that is very inspirational.”
Both Maria and Michael said that although they would prefer their children stay a part of the family business, ultimately it is up to them to find their calling and vocation even if it is outside the restaurant.
“We always talk about them finding their passion,” said Maria. “And when you find your passion, it’s not work — you enjoy what you do.”
The city of Richmond can expect more quality food service from the Osegeura family soon. The Pink Flamingo, a coastal taco bar with a beach theme, is currently under construction, and will be located a block away from Maya on the 400 block of Grace Street. The new restaurant will include a ceviche bar and will serve street food, as well as finger food.
“[Pink Flamingo] is going to be more of a bar scene that we want to be more fun,” said Michael Jr. “I would like to have DJs every now and then, because I feel that would keep things interesting.”
Michael hopes that this new energy will hopefully attract more of a younger crowd.
“I think it’s going to be a fun atmosphere and place to be,” Michael said. “We’re going to have the music, the tacos, the drinks — all the tastes and flavors.”
Once the Pink Flamingo opens, Michael said that the focus of Maya will center around Maria’s cooking and personality. They are considering changing the name to Maria’s Kitchen.
Written by Adrian Teran-Tapia and Zach Armstrong. Photos courtesy Oseguera family.