May 13, 2003 11:00 pm

ENTERPRISE — After not having a Mexican restaurant in Wallowa County for nine years, two such eateries will replace restaurants that recently closed in Enterprise.

One, operated by Leo Arenas, will be at the site of the former Pam's Country Kitchen at the corner of North and River streets.

The second one will be three blocks west on Highway 82, at the site of the former House Cafe.

Arenas hopes to have the El Bajio restaurant open Saturday. His dining room is set up with Mexican decor and menus offering complete Mexican dinners.

Arenas is putting the final touches on the kitchen, then will be awaiting his final inspection, he said.

Arenas is from Guanajuato, Mexico. He worked the past 3 years in a Baker City Mexican restaurant.

When he began looking to open his own restaurant, he chose Enterprise because he likes small towns, he said. Arenas is married and has a 2-year-old son. Arenas plans to have three other workers at the restaurant.

Jose and Angelica Zurita hope to have the other Mexican restaurant open by early July.

They have removed some interior walls in an expansion of the former House Cafe at 307 West North Street (Highway 82).

The kitchen is being remodeled in the restaurant that will be named La Laguna (the Lagoon).

The couple plans to have four employees.

Zuritas are from Newport, Wash., where Angelica worked in a Mexican restaurant. One of Angelica's customers in Newport told her about Enterprise.

— Gary Fletcher