The South Texas Surf and Turf ($27) includes grilled steak and shrimp served with rice.[/caption]
A photo from the restaurant’s early days shows Mariano Martinez, La Hacienda Ranch founder and owner, demonstrating his frozen margarita machine.[/caption]
Pioneer restaurant in Frisco still thriving
Few businesses lined Preston Road in Frisco in the early 1990s. Planting a business there would essentially mean planting it in the middle of nowhere.
But Mariano Martinez, La Hacienda Ranch founder and owner and creator of the frozen margarita machine, said he liked the idea of having a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. He said his food is of such a high quality that people will drive long distances for it.
"I guess it's the old "Field of Dreams" story," he said. "If you build it, they will come."
So in 1993 Martinez opened La Hacienda Ranch on Preston Road.
Martinez received some help to open the Tex-Mex restaurant. In 1992, La Hacienda Ranch received the city's first economic incentive, worth $5,000, from the city to install a fire hydrant, according to the Frisco Economic Development Corp.
Martinez also said it was sleeting when the restaurant opened in November. Bob Warren, who was the mayor at the time, offered to help so the employees would not have to drive home on icy roads, Martinez said.
"The mayor of Frisco opened up his house, his personal home, and he let our employees stay there because there were no apartments and no hotel in the vicinity," he said.
Today, La Hacienda Ranch is surrounded by many other restaurants, but Martinez's focus on providing high-quality food has not changed, he said.
La Hacienda Ranch is a scratch kitchen, and the produce is delivered to the restaurant six days a week, Director of Operations Bruce Williams said.
"I've been here almost 20 years, and I still love the food," he said. "That's very unique, I think. That doesn't happen a lot."
The restaurant is best known for its fajitas, Williams said. The fajita meats are grilled over mesquite and pecan wood logs and are served with either flour or corn tortillas.
"The fajita beef that they come out with is very, very tender," Williams said.
Besides Mexican dishes the restaurant also serves steak, such as filet and ribeye.
But La Hacienda Ranch is possibly best-known for frozen margaritas. Martinez created the first frozen margarita machine in the early 1970s.
His original margarita machine was inducted into the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 2005. Though Martinez never patented his creation, the margarita machine revolutionized the restaurant industry, Williams said.
"[Martinez] is a restaurant person," Williams said. "He's thinking about running a restaurant and making people happy. He's not thinking about, 'What did I just create?'"
La Hacienda Ranch offers an array of margaritas, including the Fire and Ice margarita. This drink is infused with a hint of jalapeno for a spicier take on a margarita on the rocks, Williams said.
Martinez also created his own signature margarita called The Mariano.
Martinez said with the success of La Hacienda Ranch's four locations, he is looking to open another restaurant, possibly in north Frisco, that will be larger than the first Frisco location.
But wherever he places his next restaurant, Martinez said he wants people to have an enjoyable dining experience.
The restaurant staff reflects that mission by wearing smiley face stickers on their uniforms that say "MPH", which stands for "make people happy."
"We're all in this together, and we all work for our guests," Martinez said. "Our mission is to make people happy."
- 4110 Preston Road
- Hours: Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.