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When I first started this restaurant five years ago, I had no idea if it would work. All I knew was that my job as a nurse wasn’t for me, and that I’d been dreaming of running a restaurant for years. There were some people who told me I couldn’t do it, or that the way I wanted to do it just wouldn’t work. Well, if you know me at all, you’ll know that when someone says, “No,” that just spurs me forward. No, to me, is just the beginning of the conversation.

And that’s what Söntés has turned into: one long, hard, amazing, enlightening conversation.

And wow, it’s been five years! Five years of some hard knocks, long days, and beautiful experiences. I’ve met the most amazing people on the life-changing journey that running Söntés has become. From farmers, to artists, to wine experts, to musicians, to master chefs, to restaurant guests who are trying tapas for the first time in their lives—all of these people have taught me what it’s like to live in a strong community and how rewarding that can be.

When I started Söntés in Rochester, some people thought it would never fly. “In this city? No way,” they said. But I just knew there was more to this town. When you start digging and opening yourself up to what’s here, you realize how remarkable it is for a city this size. We have great artists who live here. We have amazing local farmers. We have so many bright and interested minds. And it’s the way we’re all coming together to support one another that makes Rochester the really cool place that it is.

Sure, Söntés is about great food, and great wine, and the wonderful things that can happen when you put the two of them together. But it’s also about community. When people dine in our restaurant, they’re supporting the neighbors around them, because we believe in the quality of what we serve, and we buy as much as possible from farmers and business owners in our local area.

I believe in giving our guests the best possible value for their dollar. Part of that value comes in the fact that our ingredients, our wines, and our beer are free of chemical preservatives, organic or farm-raised whenever possible, and bought at a fair and honest price. Part of the value comes in new and exciting flavor combinations, time-intensive old world techniques, and attention to visual presentation. Another part comes in our commitment to friendly service, knowledgeable staff, and a fun atmosphere where people can meet up with their friends.  When our patrons dine with us, they are supporting all of these things and more.

The past five years have taught me so much. I started this restaurant on just a wing and a prayer, having no idea how far it could or would go. We’ve succeeded only because of the community around us, the people who have taken a leap of faith and walked into Söntés, knowing nothing about tapas style dining, and trusted us to show them a new world of food and wine. In the years ahead, we will continue to thrive and grow with the support of everyone around us, and we’ll continue to show our support of our neighbors through involvement with local food, artists, and businesses.

So, let us all raise a glass! Here’s to you and to our community. Salut!

-Tessa

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