More than 35 years after the first Lupe Tortilla restaurant opened in Katy, Texas, the family-owned Tex-Mex chain is heading north, to Irving.
The restaurant near 635 and North Belt Line Road — their first in Dallas-Fort Worth — is expected to open in mid-June. From there, they're firing up the grills and the expansion plan, with a Lupe Tortilla expected to open in Addison in July; Allen before the end of 2019; and Fort Worth in the first quarter of 2020, says Josh Brunson, the company's director of training and corporate executive chef.
Someday, they plan to operate 12 Lupe Tortillas in North Texas.
Update on June 10: The restaurant didn't officially open on June 10, but a spokeswoman expects it to open soon. We'll continue to update this story with details.
"We finally have the infrastructure to move north," Brunson says, explaining that the company has blossomed to some 1,500 employees working at the headquarters and in restaurants in San Antonio, Austin, College Station, Beaumont and Houston. The greatest concentration of restaurants is on Lupe Tortilla's home turf, Houston, where the restaurant has become known for its beef fajitas, tableside guacamole and margaritas.
"Consistency is the key," Brunson says, "and that's what we were waiting for." Houston transplants and Texas travelers had already been hounding the company for an opening date, he says.
Initially, the restaurant in Addison was expected to open first. But due to a construction delay while crews transformed the restaurant from a Romano's Macaroni Grill into a Tex-Mex joint, Addison's opening was pushed back.
With so many companies headquartered nearby, Brunson says they hope for heavy lunchtime crowds in Irving and Addison. But breakfast is an option, too, as Lupe Tortillas open at 8 a.m. seven days a week. More than a spot for chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, Lupe Tortilla also sells pancakes, smoked salmon Benedict, omelets, and biscuits and gravy at breakfast time.
Lupe started selling breakfast at its existing locations in spring 2018, Brunson says. "There aren't a lot of places doing breakfast the right way," he says — and even fewer of those are full-service Tex-Mex restaurants.
The Irving restaurant has colorful patio chairs out front, and on nice days, managers might "open up all the windows and let the outdoors in," Brunson says. "It's like you're on vacation."
CEO and president Judson Holt, chief development officer Peter Holt and chief operating officer Nick Incrapera each graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and fellow chef Brunson says they're involved in creating and evolving the menu. But, for the most part, it's the longtime recipes that keep Texans talking.
"It's the fajitas," Brunson says.