Everyone has been there at dinner time. Someone looks down at their hoagie or processed meal and thinks to themselves that they can do better. Providing “better” is what it’s all about at the new-form Mustang Cantina, which ponies up a fine dining experience right in the heart of Goliad. 

Closed since March of 2020, the restaurant now opens with a new focus under owners Scotty and Patsy Light. The Lights entrusted Campbell Mahaffey with the duty of general manager and executive chef, bringing his cuisine creations to the establishment.

“We are so excited to be providing a fine dining option for Goliad County,” Mahaffey said.

Mahaffey is the grandson of Gaye Urban, owner of Square Gallery in Goliad. He hit the ground running in the cooking game, gaining 10 years of restaurant experience before attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After his graduation on Sept. 4, 2020, he had been working extensively with the Light family to get the cantina back in business.

“(I’ve) got some skin in the game…what I want is to make people happy,” he said.

The most pressing and time-sensitive issue was preparing the kitchen and customers’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahaffey says that “every decision made has been based on keeping the public safe,” including several restaurant guidelines he keeps for himself and staff.

Each restaurant surface is sanitized three times daily, and temperature checks are performed on all employees at the beginning of each shift. In addition, employees will wear masks at all times.

When customers arrive, they will have the choice of either receiving a meal for take-out or dining in an outside patio setting, with heating included for the winter months. Seated dining is by reservation only.

Previously a bar atmosphere, the restaurant will now take on a high-end feel, bringing a bit of Mahaffey’s New York learnings to the Texas dinner table. Doing away with diner food, the cantina has options on the menu such as German-style pork tenderloin, rib-eye steak, stuffed quail and a fried shrimp plate. The restaurant’s filet mignon and other beef products come from the Beathi Cattle Company of Goliad, keeping the product local. Mahaffey noted that the cuts of beef are of superior quality, similar to that he saw in culinary school in the northeast.

“I’d like to think I made my teachers proud,” he said.

Mahaffey’s first shift aboard Mustang Cantina was on Jan. 21, with his first set of customers gushing about their experience, calling the budding chef a “gift” for his food talents.

The Mustang Cantina is currently located at 306 S. Commercial St. in downtown Goliad. For more information or to reserve a table, call 210-828-6203 or visit www.themustangcantina.com.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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