C3’s Bistro owner, Aaron Hundley, stands in front of the restaurant in Corrales with his wife, Kanisha, and kids, Savannah and Titus Hundley. Hundley said his oldest child, 9-year-old Lydia Beachum-Gadson, was out of town, but all of his kids play a part in the bistro. Amy Byres photo.

CORRALES — Corrales Cajun Creole Bistro, better known as C3’s Bistro, recently opened its doors to serve the community and help its employees prosper.

Owner Aaron Hundley and his business partner, Julian Maestas, opened the bistro, on Corrales Road, in September. The restaurant’s walls are decorated with art from local artists and have a New Orleans French Quarter theme.

Hundley and Maestas try to order from local vendors as much as they can to help contribute to the community, Hundley said. Hundley hopes to feature jazz musicians in the restaurant to show off talent in the area, he said.

The vision is to create a work culture surrounded by family and growth, he said. Hundley’s wife and kids have been a pillar in making C3’s Bistro come to fruition, Hundley said. Being a restaurateur allows him to teach his kids about hard work, while being a provider and present in his family’s life, Hundley said.

Hundley said he also wouldn’t get very far without his business partner and C3’s chef, Maestas.

“My biggest passion is food, and it is pretty much the only thing I know how to do,” Maestas said.

Developing the Cajun-Creole menu was all about flavor and experimenting, he said.

“Food brings people together, and when people enjoy that bite, that is what makes me happy. And that is what pushes me to be better,” he said.

Maestas started his career as a line cook at 14 years old. About 22 years later, he is creating a menu with the goal to create something unique to the restaurant.

“Take the French toast; I didn’t want to do a regular French toast,” he said.

For the French toast, Maestas slices a baguette and dips it into a special batter. At the time he was creating this dish, the restaurant’s flat top grill wasn’t working, so Maestas used the beignet fryer to cook the French toast, he said.

“And it was just like, ‘That works 10 times better,'” Maestas said. “We had to adapt and change, and that is a lot like my partnership (with Hundley).”

The menu will always stay fresh at the bistro, he said. Maestas is excited to add family-style meals, like jambalaya.

“We will probably change the menu up come January, February,” he said. “I don’t want to keep things where it is the same like 30 years later.”

He said if there is ever an item taken off the menu, and he still has the ingredients for the dish, he will cook it for a customer.

“We will have that secret menu style,” Maestas said. “Because we are here to serve the public, and that is our biggest thing, is service.”

He said his favorite thing about being a chef is watching people enjoy food.

C3’s Bistro “Swamp Wings” are glazed alligator with a spicy Cajun aioli served over shoestring potatoes.
Photo Amy Byres

In addition to C3’s Bistro, they own P’tit Louis Bistro in Nob Hill. The pair hopes to open more restaurants and grow organically into areas like Rio Rancho, Hundley said.

“If the Lord blesses and continues to have his hand on us, this will be one of a couple more locations and concepts,” he said.

Hundley said he is a man of faith and dedicates his business and success to the Lord. He takes this mindset into all aspects of his life and work ethic, he said.

“We are looking to serve, more than be served. Our goal is to bring in and give people opportunity to hone their skills in the kitchen and hone their skills in the customer service realm. Our cultural value is generosity and grace,” he said.

Hundley listed the cultural values he is instituting into his restaurants and future establishments:

• Integrity,

• Faith,

• Hard work, and

• Accountability.

As leaders, Hundley and Maestas have a duty to provide empowerment, enrichment and encouragement to their employees, he said.

He hopes by instilling these concepts in the workplace it will carry over to customers for a positive experience while dining at C3’s Bistro.

“To make this place a warm place, where you feel like it is an extension of your own home, and to have fun, and to just forget about a bad day and enjoy some good food, and if you’re having a good day meal to accentuate that,” he said.

The workplace culture supports each other and strives for quality, Hundley said.

“We are stewards, meaning we hold ourselves to a level of expectation to manage well what has been put in front of us,” he said.

The culture supports co-workers and owners to be the best version of themselves, Hundley said.

“We are nothing without our guests, and we are nothing without our employees,” he said. “As an owner, I am extremely thankful for my staff, my wife and the blessing the Lord has given, and the patrons that continue to visit us.”

For more information, search C3’s Bistro on Facebook to view their page or call 398-9449.

Chef Julian Maestas at C3’s Bistro serves an Alligator Po-Boy, one of his favorites, he said. The dish is served with coleslaw, fries and Cajun aioli. Amy Byres photo.

About the author

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer