Tony Mejia said he tried to retire once, but he and his wife, Gloria, were drawn back to the restaurant business.
Since May 2012 they have owned and operated Gloria's Cafe on Lakeline Boulevard in Cedar Park, cooking American, Tex-Mex and West Coast favorites familiar to customers of their former restaurant, Tony's Cafe, in Leander.
The menu at Gloria's includes the couple's signature items such as California-style burritos and an omelet with pork, green chilies and special sauce, Tony said.
"I like for foods to be presentable," Tony said. "Cooking is a way you present. It's an art to present a dish that you can look at and enjoy eating."
Cooking runs in the Mejia family. Two of Tony and Gloria's sons, Eric and Alex, work with three other cooks in the kitchen. The restaurant serves dinner Wednesday through Sunday, opens daily for breakfast and lunch, and offers breakfast items all day.
The menu is based on the couple's restaurant experience in three other cities: Petaluma, Calif.; Olympia, Wash.; and Las Vegas. After a visit with family in Cedar Park, the couple moved to the city in 2005 and attempted to retire, Tony said.
"About eight months went by, and I was going crazy," he said. "I was going to bed at 3 o'clock in the morning because I was bored, and I didn't get up until three in the afternoon."
In 2005 the Mejias rented a building on US 183 in Leander and ran Tony's Cafe until Tony had a stroke in 2008. The Mejias sold the restaurant, but by 2012 Tony spotted an open space on Lakeline Boulevard. It was time for a new restaurant, one similar to Tony's but with a new name, he said.
"We all agreed Gloria's Cafe would sound a little different," Tony said.
The Lakeline location draws newcomers and fans who recall Tony's in Leander, Gloria said.
"Ninety percent of our customers are the local people," she said.
A clientele featuring employees on breaks, families and senior citizens eat the restaurant's daily breakfast specials priced at $4.49 from 7 a.m. to noon, Gloria said.
Increased traffic on Lakeline Boulevard in 2013 brought Gloria's about 30 percent more customers than in the previous year, Tony said. That helped the couple buy a larger kitchen freezer, new chairs for the dining room and a computer system, Gloria said.
But Gloria's keeps an old-fashioned feel that the couple doesn't intend to change, she said.
For now Tony has no plans to retire again. Even when he and Gloria dine out they are researching other menus for ideas. During vacations they call back home to check how the restaurant is doing, he said.
"Having a business, being involved for so many years, is like a part of you," Tony said. "I would like to retire. But if I retire, I have to do something."
Gloria's Cafe serves a variety of Tex-Mex, American and West Coast dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.