When Johnny Aguirre took ownership of New Braunfels Tortilleria in 2020 he inherited a business that has served the community for more than 50 years.
The tortilleria opened in 1970 but did not serve meals until 1984, when it moved into its current location at 1681 Spur St.
“I’ve been coming to eat here since I was little,” Aguirre said. “My grandmother lived down the street and I’m born and raised here so everybody that’s already been coming [to the restaurant], I know them.”
Aguirre’s father, Johnny “Kono” Aguirre, was involved in the New Braunfels restaurant industry for decades and opened and operated Los Gallos Taco House until 2013.
Though Aguirre had a full-time job in San Marcos, he often worked alongside his father in his restaurants. The two planned to operate the tortilleria together when it became available in late 2019.
“It was two sisters that ran it,” Aguirre said. “One day I came, and they said, ‘Hey, you know we're fixing to retire.’ ... Six months went by and I get a phone call the day before Christmas, and they're like, ‘Hey, we're ready.’”
Aguirre and his family began the process of purchasing the restaurant in December 2019 and took full ownership in early March 2020, only to have to close the dining area due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure gave the Aguirre family time to renovate the interior and add a take out window, which Aguirre said now accounts for about 70 percent of their business.
“Everybody remembers this place the way it used to look,” he said. “When we closed down, that’s when we remodeled everything, so when people started coming in they were in shock.”
Though the building and dining room were updated, several key menu items remain the same. Aguirre inherited the eatery’s original barbacoa recipe, and the previous owners make the menudo each week.
Richard Guerra, Aguirre’s childhood friend, signed on as the chef and has introduced several new menu items such as birria tacos and a supersized taco dubbed the “Super Kono,” in honor of Aguirre’s father who passed away in July.
As the restaurant has reopened its dining room to new and familiar customers, Aguirre said he hopes to continue building on the traditions set in place by the former owners by offering traditional Mexican fare and a place for guests to feel at home.
“This is actually 51 years. [The previous owners] had it for 50 years. If I could have another 10, I’ll be good,” he said.
New Braunfels Tortilleria
1681 Spur St., New Braunfels
Hours: Tues.-Sun. 6 a.m.-2 p.m.